|Tuesday, 20 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-08-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 4 August 2014 Issue No: 4725
 Time has come for a national economic growth plan, Finance Minister Hardouvelis saysThe Greek economy has all the guarantees to leave its past behind, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis underlined in an article he signed in Sunday's Kathimerini newspaper.
"We are gradually leaving behind six years of recession, unemployment, lower incomes, pain and anger. The challenge we are facing is to look at the future from a different perspective than we had in the past," he underlined, adding that "Greece changes for the better".
He noted that "the country moves closer towards the end of the adjustment programme and now is the time to commit to a national growth plan, not because it is a precondition for receiving loans but because we believe that it is a necessary precondition for the prosperity of our country and macroeconomic sustainability in the demanding environment of the euro."
Hardouvelis said that efforts should focus on making the economy export-oriented and making Greece attractive to foreign investors, stressing that "the economy can no longer be consumption-driven".
The finance minister also noted that the national plan supports sectors in which the country has strong comparative advantages, such as, tourism, high quality agricultural production, energy, logistics, shipping, pharmaceuticals, metal industry, construction materials, business services and research.
Hardouvelis underlined that a developed country like Greece cannot focus on sectors that are based on cheap labour, noting that the national growth plan focuses on increasing the value added of products and services through the incorporation of greater technological content, innovation and knowledge.
 Greece's efforts are being acknowledged, the finance ministry saysGreece becomes more attractive to foreign investors, a finance ministry announcement on Saturday said after Moody's Investors Service upgraded Greece's government bond rating by two notches to Caa1 from Caa3.
The finance ministry underlined that the efforts made by the government and the people aimed at returning quickly to high economic growth rates, are being recognized.
The references made to the significant improvement in Greece's fiscal position, to the greater flexibility of the Greek fiscal policy in the future, to the promotion of structural reforms, the improvement of economic outlook and the reduced interest burden, reinforce confidence in the Greek economy, the finance ministry underlined.
 Parliamentary committee approves omnibus bill during first readingThe government-sponsored omnibus bill was approved by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs with a majority vote during its first reading on Saturday.
Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis underlined that its clauses constitute positive interventions in the battle against the dysfunctions of the taxation system and mechanism.
"The clauses we suggest contribute to the simplification of procedures and handle longstanding dysfunctions," Mavraganis said.
The omnibus bill will be approved on Monday by the responsible committee during its second reading and on Tuesday and Wednesday will be discussed in parliament.
 MPs and regional newspaper owners reject omnibus draft bill clauseBoth government and opposition party MPs support the withdrawal of a clause, included in the omnibus bill, that abolishes the mandatory paid publication of public project contracts and tender details by the state and local administration organizations OTA.
Addressing the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs, regional newspaper owners underlined that the clause will have a devastating effect on their revenues and threaten the survival of regional press leading to the shutting down of small newspapers and the loss of thousands of jobs.
Deputy Development Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos did not rule out the likelihood of changes to be introduced next week, underlining that "no one wants the death of regional press".
 FM Venizelos compares Greece to Argentina, only to find the two countries worlds apartThe only solution to the issue of Greek debt is "a national negotiation in a spirit of unity and consent", emphasized junior coalition government partner PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos - also the Government Vice President and Foreign Minister - in an article he posted on Sunday in his personal web page, adding that "Everything else leads to either complete withdrawal, or catastrophe for no reason and after so many sacrifices".
Venizelos was motivated to write the article by the bankruptcy of Argentina, which he compares to Greece, coming to the conclusion that there are many, large differences between the two countries.
PASOK leader noted that the markets already believe in the sustainability of the Greek debt, judging from the foreign investors' participation in the two bond issues Greece successfully conducted in the post-haircut period, both in the last few months.
For Venizelos, Argentina's paradigm primarily "stands to remind us of the boundaries to unilateral actions related to the management of any country's public debt", but also to higlight "the importance of participating in a strong regional union, just like the European Union and especially the euro-zone".
He noted that currently European and international institutions hold 82 pct of the Greek debt, a share expected to rise to 87 pct shortly.
 Frigate "Salamis" carrying evacuees from Libya has sailed into the port of PiraeusThe Hellenic Navy frigate "Salamis" sailed into the port of Piraeus on Saturday morning with 186 Greek and foreign nationals on board who were safely evacuated from Tripoli, Libya.
Among the evacuees are 77 Greeks, the Greek embassy staff included, 78 Chinese, 10 Britons, 12 Cypriots, 7 Belgians, one Albanian and one Russian. The foreign nationals were received by their countries' embassy staff in Athens.
Among them was the Chinese ambassador who thanked the frigate crew for Greece's support to his country's efforts to get its citizens out of Libya. Appreciation was also expressed by all foreign embassy officials present.
The foreign ministry in cooperation with foreign embassies in Athens has taken all measures to accommodate the evacuated foreign nationals and facilitate departure to their homes.
The frigate has returned to Salamis Naval Base.
 Education Minister says there will be no "perpetual university students" from September onwardsIn a clarifying statement regarding media articles on the issue of "perpetual students" at Greek universities, the Education Minister Andreas Loverdos noted on Sunday that these people will no longer be considered students by their universities - according to law - starting from the forthcoming 2014/2015 academic year, in a development that has no precedent in Greek higher education standards.
"Perpetual university students" are people who have succeeded in being admitted to a university department, but systematically fail to complete their degrees by not participating in their courses' exams, although still being enrolled at their departments, in a never-ending educational process.
Loverdos said that all students who remained enrolled in their departments for years but did not complete their studies had been timely warned since 2007 and 2011 that they will no longer be allowed to continue their studies starting from September 2014. He underlined, that even additional examination sessions were offered by universities, in order to assist "perpetual" students complete their degrees.
 SYRIZA says coalition gov't 'anxiously trying to cling to power'; gov't spokeswoman reactsRadical Left Coalition SYRIZA party issued a statement on Sunday, in which it accused the coalition government of "anxiously trying to cling to power by investing exclusively in communication [impressions] games", adding that the coalition governement "failed completely in this effort", like in other efforts before it.
"[FinMin] Hardouvelis talks about 'fiscal beating of Greece' with no mercy and termination, presenting a supposed new 'Greek Growth Plan', which is nothing more than the continuation of the same catastrophic policy and of the selling up of public property, while the omnibus draft bill tabled [in Parliament] shows the inextricably knit relationship between the government and the troika and their loyal cooperation for the continuation of the memorandum", emphasized SYRIZA.
The statement concluded that Mr Samaras and his government are facing a deadlock, as the MPs in the forthcoming President of the Republic election from the Parliament "do not add up" and that the time when the coalition government will become past "is nearing".
The government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi was quick to respond to SYRIZA through her own statement on Sunday, that "For the time being, the only numbers that do not add up are the ones presented by SYRIZA MPs and executives, in order to beautify the situation in Argentina and excuse [SYRIZA leader] Mr Tsipras' views as regards Latin American 'alternative paths', 'exit from the crisis coupled with growth, employment and social cohesion according to the Argentina paradigm'".
Voultepsi noted that "Now, everyone knows that when Mr Tsipras uttered his celebrated phrase 'I wish we had become Argentina', he meant it", accusing SYRIZA of "going to great lengths to hide the number of 150,000 fewer votes they amassed in the European Parliament elections, which triggered a barrage of intra-party controversy around Mr Tsipras".
 Cyprus Republic President Anastasiades on the efforts for the solution of the Cyprus issue"A solution to the Cyprus issue should not leave anyone with the sense of being winners or losers. The solution will be compromise. We should be mature enough and abandon visions that could turn into nightmares," Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades underlined in an interview published in Sunday's Vima newspaper.
He admitted that negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots do not progress, adding that the only incentive that would have driven Ankara to solve the Cyprus issue would probably be Turkey's energy needs. He noted that a precondition for Turkey's participation in the energy reserves would be the solution of the Cyprus issue clarifying, however, that "Nicosia will never negotiate its sovereign rights with Ankara".
Anastasiades said that "the Cyprus problem is also a European problem" and characterized as "wrong policy" the adoption of the doctrine that says "you find the solution and we will adjust it to the European acquis".
He clarified that Greece and Cyprus are united in the diplomatic efforts and stressed that "it would be ungrateful to say the opposite".
The Cyprus Republic president also expressed certainty that he will be able to meet with the US president in the fall.
 Golden Dawn case trial on track to begin end-2014; trial venue still undecidedAppeal judges prosecutor Isidoros Doghiakos will shortly receive the voluminous Golden Dawn case file, after the appeal judges special investigators handling the case - Ms Ioanna Klapa and Ms Maria Dimitropoulou - declared the end of the lenghty investigation, lasting many months.
The two investigators officially sent Doghiakos - the supervising investigator - their detailed findings as regards Golden Dawn's illegal activities. He is expected to carefully formulate his suggestion to the Judicial Council, as regards whether or not each of the 78 defendants in the case should be indicted. The Board of Appeals will have the final word on the further penal treatment of the defendants.
The case trial is expected to begin around end-2014. The Golden Dawn trial venue has not yet been designated, as it will require a hall of extraordinary specifications, due to the nature of the case, the large number of defendants, witnesses (including protected) and advocates, as well as the need for the projection of dozens of photographs and video clips included in the case file.
Out of the 78 defendants, 30 have already been taken into custody. All original 18 Golden Dawn MPs - irrespective of their current status with the party - are facing felony charges of participating and running a criminal organization.
 Moody's upgrades Greece's government bond ratingMoody's Investors Service late on Friday upgraded Greece's government bond rating by two notches to Caa1 from Caa3. The outlook on the rating is stable and Greece's short-term debt rating is unaffected and remains Not Prime (NP).
An announcement by Moody's underlined that the rating action was triggered by the significant improvement in Greece's fiscal position over the past year and the rating agency's view that the government remains committed to fiscal consolidation. Based on these estimates, Moody's forecasts a gradual decline in the public debt to GDP ratio, which Moody's expects to peak this year and then start to fall from 2015.
The ratings agency cites the improvement in Greece's economic outlook, based on both a cyclical recovery and the progress made in implementing structural reforms and rebalancing the economy.
Moody's also referred to the government's reduced interest burden and lengthened maturities of the debt, which adds to fiscal flexibility and reduces refinancing risks.
 ESEE confederation wants VAT exemption capability extended to business revenue of up to 20,000 eurosThe National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) positively assessed small business and freelancers' capability of being exempt from charging VAT in their transactions, as provided for in the omnibus draft bill tabled in Parliament by the government, although it found 10,000 euros to be a "very small" upper revenue limit up to which the exemption shall apply, compared to other EU countries.
According to ESEE president Vassilis Korkidis, the VAT exemption rule is applicable within the EU up to a maximum business revenue ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 euros, while in France and Britain this upper limit is even higher, at 90,000 and 95,000 euros, respectively.
"It is obvious that the specific measure [of VAT exemption] serves more to facilitate the bureaucracy invloved in the periodic VAT-statement and [tax] audit procedure, rather than to act as a tax relief and price decrease measure, owing to the fact that expenditure VAT will not be possible to be offset [in the case of exemption].", said Korkidis.
The new measure will begin being implemented by the 1st of January, 2015, offering the choice of VAT exemption to businesses and freelancers with a revenue of up to 10,000 euros, which ESEE wants extended to 20,000 euros.
In conclusion, Korkidis noted that "The effort of the government's economic team is positive, but insufficient...".
 Alpha Bank expects private sector bank deposit increases to persistIn its latest weekly economic analysis, Alpha Bank said that private sector bank deposits increased by a total of 1.07 bln euros during June 2014 compared to a month earlier, with businesses contributing 843 mln euros to the increase. The total monthly increase surpasses the corresponding increases recorded during May, April and March 2014 (+770 mln euros, +207 mln euros and +472 mln euros, respectively).
Private sectors' bank deposits have increased by 2.2 bln euros since January 2014. Alpha Bank estimated that between June 2012 and June 2014, private sector bank deposits increased by a total of 17.6 bln euros, owed mainly to the return in the banking system of hoarded banknotes, in a lesser extent also to repatriated bank deposits held in accounts abroad.
Alpha Bank was optimistic as regards the return of additional deposits to banks from the private sector in the immediate future, which it sees as gradually forming conditions necessary for credit re-expansion.
The bank said that the general non-perfoming loans (NPLs) index stood at 33.6 pct at end-March, with the consumer NPLs index at 49.2 pct, the corporate finance/business NPLs index at 33.8 pct and mortgage NPLs index at 27.3 pct.
 Greek Tourism Enterprises Association on the bankruptcy of Russian tour operator LabirintThe bankruptcy of the Russian tour operator Labirint prompted an announcement by the Greek Tourism Enterprises Association (SETE) underlining that tourism sector professionals will continue to offer their hospitality to their Russian guests.
SETE noted that clarifications on the way payments will be made will be available as soon as possible and underlined that hospitality to the people who chose Greece for their vacations is a priority.
 No changes in retirement age, Labour Minister Vroutsis says"The payment of pensions is absolutely guaranteed and there will be no changes in the retirement age," Labour, Social Insurance & Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis underlined in an interview in the newspaper "Paraskinio" on Saturday.
He also left open the likelihood of a new favourable settlement for debts to social insurance funds designed to relieve businessmen who had no debts in the past but since they have been hit by the crisis are unable to pay their dues.
Referring to measures that will boost employment, Vroutsis announced the gradual implementation of new programmes until the end of September for roughly 100,000 unemployed of all ages.
 Greek commerce confederation on the opening of stores on SundaysThe implementation during the summer of the decision that allows retail stores to be open year-round, including all Sundays, even in regions that are not tourism destinations, does not attract consumers, National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) president Vassilis Korkidis said on Sunday.
Commenting on the small participation recorded in regions that are not tourism destinations, he said that less than two out of 10 retail stores opened and even some department stores remained closed.
Mobilizations against the abolition of the Sunday holiday were held in downtown Athens.
 Mount Athos "avaton" is not at risk, civilian administrator Kasmiroglou saysThe "avaton" of Mount Athos is unchallengeable, civilian administrator of the monastic community in Halkidiki Peninsula, northern Greece, Aristos Kasmiroglou told ANA-MPA on Saturday responding to a relevant news report in the weekly newspaper "Orthodoxos Typos".
According to the report, the World Council of Churches in its latest meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, decided, among others, to lift the longstanding gender ban on Mount Athos applying to women (also known as "avaton").
Kasmiroglou said that the "avaton" is in effect for centuries and is guaranteed by international treaties, adding that the holy rules of Mount Athos, even customary laws, are being guaranteed in Greece's EU accession treaty.
 One arrest in Thessaloniki for overdue debts to the stateA 45-year-old managing director of a metal constructions firm was arrested on Saturday in Thessaloniki for millions of euros in overdue debts to the state.
The arrest was made for debts amounting to 34,399,662.66 euros.
 Mostly fair on MondayMostly fair weather and mainly northerly winds are forecast for Monday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair weather in the morning with local showers in the afternoon in the northern parts of the country, temperatures ranging between 20C and 36C. Mostly fair in the central and the southern parts with temperatures between 20C and 36C. Fair over the islands, 23C-34C. Mostly fair weather in Athens with scattered clouds in the afternoon, 23C-36C; mostly fair with local showers in the afternoon in Thessaloniki, 23C-34C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "They are with (the vultures representing) 1 pct, we are with (society representing) 99 pct (in Argentina)"
DIMOKRATIA: "Bleeding Greece"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Argentine tango for two"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Debt, troika, tax reliefs, on the table with Juncker"
ETHNOS: "Paris 'treaty' on the debt"
KATHIMERINI: "Rapid increase of illegal migrants entering Greece"
LOGOS: "Misleading SMS messages"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Any move in favour of the capital holders is dangerous for the people"
TO VIMA: "Tax bureau raids"
VRADYNI: "Ten key-moves for immediate retirement"
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