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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-01-16

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] SYRIZA leader to brief President on Berlin talks
  • [02] PM, party leaders meeting: Common front against violence
  • [03] Development minister and Reichenbach discuss motorways projects
  • [04] Metro employees' trade union calls strike for Thur.
  • [05] Average Greek exporter a medium-sized company
  • [06] Finmin briefed on progress of privatisations
  • [07] Transit and docking tax for leisure crafts

  • [01] SYRIZA leader to brief President on Berlin talks

    AMNA--Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras will call on President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at noon on Wednesday on his trip to Berlin and contacts with the German political leadership, including German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

    Tsipras wound up his visit to Berlin with a meeting on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's special envoy for Greek-German cooperation, Deputy Labour Minister Hans Joachim Fuchtel.

    According to SYRIZA sources, Tsipras pointed out to Fuchtel a development ministry circular which SYRIZA says provides for preferential treatment of the investment activity of foreign local government organizations, discriminating against the Greek ones, as it allows the subsidization of foreign companies in which the public sector participates while subsidization is not allowed of the corresponding Greek companies.amna

    The SYRIZA delegation wondered whether this was an arrangement that had been demanded by the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders, and Fuchtel reserved reply as he was not aware of the matter, the party sources said.

    Fuchtel outlined the Task Force's action in Greece and its efforts to bring the Greek and German municipalities into contact in order to make possible a transfer of German knowhow on resolving matters pertaining to local government, such as waste management.amna

    Tsipras, the same sources added, expressed reservations on whether the condition of the municipal enterprises in Greece -- due to the reductions of staff and cutbacks -- enables the creation of consortiums for investments, but clarified that SYRIZA would not be averse to the rationale of consortiums, provided that they would be of mutual benefit.

    [02] PM, party leaders meeting: Common front against violence

    AMNA--The escalation of violence and the daily problems of the real economy occupied centre stage at the meeting on Tuesday of the three political leaders whose parties comprise the ruling coalition.

    Coming out of the meeting at Prime Minister Antonis Samara's Maximos Mansion headquarters, PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos said society must unanimously condemn phenomena of violence. He called on democratic forces in parliament to present a common front before racism-based violence, indirectly hinting that the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party should be excluded.amna

    In terms of the economy, Venizelos said the three discussed mostly the problems the market and families face on a daily basis. He also said they discussed issues of national strategy, but did not provide details because he said both economy and strategy issues would be discussed at their next meeting.

    Asked to comment on the so-called Lagarde list issue, he said that there was a crude political plot by political forces, abetted by specific individuals. "The facts have spoken," he added. amna

    "The democratic forces must raise a fortified wall against those who attack democracy," Democratic Left (DI.MAR.) leader Fotis Kouvelis said after the meeting at the Maximos Mansion. amna

    The three leaders, whose parties comprise the ruling coalition, also discussed the need to develop a social protection network for lower-income classes being affected most by the crisis and measures to stem unemployment, Kouvelis said.

    To a query on what procedure the Parliament will use to vote on the so-called 'Lagarde list', DI.MAR's leader said that was a matter of the parliamentary presidents and the plenary session.

    Asked about plans for the Hellenic PostBank (TT) and whether its restructuring will proceed, Kouvelis said he introduced the topic in the agenda to ensure that any decision does not harm the bank's employees.amna

    Following a briefing he gave to the political leaders, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said that lawlessness will never be acceptable, whatever its source. Leaving the meeting, the minister said he briefed the leaders "about the latest incidents of violence and about the great effort being undertaken to strengthen public safety in the land."

    [03] Development minister and Reichenbach discuss motorways projects

    AMNA--EU Task Force chief for Greece Horst Reichenbach met with Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday to discuss the negotiations between the European Commission and banks on the restarting of the projects for four major motorways.

    Speaking after the meeting in Athens, Reichenbach said, "It is early for us to be absolutely certain of anything. The European Commission will not become an obstacle, it will not delay the procedures at this stage, in order for there to be an initial political decision. Therefore when a final agreement is made, the Commission's decisions will come sooner".amna

    The Development minister said he will be going to Brussels in the coming days to brief the relevant commissioners on the motorway projects so that the procedures will not be held up by the Commission.

    [04] Metro employees' trade union calls strike for Thur.

    AMNA--Athens metro employees will hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday, Jan. 17, their trade union announced on Tuesday.

    The strike will be held in protest against "government measures that abolish the collective labour agreement", according to a statement issued by metro trade union SELMA.

    [05] Average Greek exporter a medium-sized company

    AMNA--The new profile of the average Greek exporting company is a medium-sized firm whose main activity is in the food sector, while the vast majority are based in the Attica region, a report by the Panhellenic Federation of Exporters said on Tuesday.

    The report was based on a sample of 1,162 enterprises registered with the Federation in the period 2010-2011. The report also showed that only 1.57 percent of all Greek enterprises intended to expand their products in foreign markets.

    Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Federation, commenting on the report said: "The aim of the survey was to put a new tool in the hands of various groups and the state, enabling them to draft an even more efficient and more focused national export strategy".amna

    More than 2,000 enterprises around the country made the bold move to expand in foreign markets during the last two years, reacting to a deep recession in the Greek economy. These companies used the crisis as an opportunity to expand abroad and, in many cases, this move ensured both their viability and their job positions, along with expanding their turnover. These companies, and all potential exporters, now need a steady business environment, the Federation said.

    The report showed that 31.6 percent of enterprises that launched export activities in the 2010-2011 period were societe anonyme firms, another 23.3 percent were limited companies, 18.3 percent were personal companies and only 1.6 percent agricultural cooperatives. According to the Panhellenic Federation of Exporters' registry, 23 percent of exporting companies were large or very large enterprises, 44 percent were medium-sized and 33 percent were small and very small enterprises.amna

    Thirty percent of exporters were enterprises in the food sector, followed by machinery-equipment (10 percent), transport/transport equipment and printing/packaging (6.6 percent). Building material (5.0 percent), clothing/footwear and export representatives/dealers (5 percent) followed, ahead of plastics (3.3 percent), IT/software (3.30 percent), pharmaceutical/cosmetics (3.3 percent), chemical/fertilizers (3.3 percent) and jewelry (3.3 percent). Popular art items (12 percent) was a strong exporting sector.

    A 75 percent of enterprises in the survey were based in the Attica region, with the region accounting for more than 52 percent of total exports. Attica is followed by Macedonia (5.0 percent), central Greece and the Peloponese (5.0 percent each). Thessaly (3.3 percent), western Greece (3.3 percent) and Crete (1.6 percent) followed.

    [06] Finmin briefed on progress of privatisations

    AMNA--Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday had a meeting with the head of the Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund (HRADF) Takis Athanasopoulos regarding the progress of Greece's privatisations programme.

    HRADF officials stressed that the first half of 2013 will be crucial, since 11 projects must go ahead in that time. The first quarter, in particular, must see the privatisation of the state betting and lottery organisation OPAP and the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA).

    The same officials noted that no change in the schedule or the targets of the programme was made during Tuesday's meeting with the minister. Based on the current plan, the country's larger ports and airports will be privatised separately, while small regional ports and airports will be privatised in groups.amna

    They reported strong interest from COSCO for Piraeus port and said that HRDAF's management is expected to brief Parliament on the privatisation of the Thessaloniki water and sewage company EYATh next week.

    [07] Transit and docking tax for leisure crafts

    AMNA--The government on Tuesday announced plans for a transit and residence tax for all private leisure craft in Greek waters, irrespective of their flag. The measure is to be included in a draft bill on marine tourism that is due to be tabled in Parliament by the finance and shipping ministries in the near future.

    A finance ministry announcement said that the new 'sailing fee' will include a charge for docking at non-private marinas that are currently free. The new levy will coincide with the abolition of 'luxury goods' taxes previously imposed on leisure boats that failed to generate the expected returns and actually caused public revenues to slump. amna

    "With the 'Sailing and Residence Levy' it is estimated that there will be a trend for the return of craft to Greek waters and Greek marinas, boosting the economies of islands and coastal regions and creating thousands of new jobs, as well as putting an end to uncertainty over the taxation treatment of leisure craft," a ministry announcement said.

    According to the ministry, the previous tax regime for leisure boats led to a loss of jobs, VAT revenue and turnover for all related business activity, while the yield of the luxury tax on an annual basis was minute. It also had a disastrous effect on Greek companies importing leisure craft, whose sales literally collapsed since no Greek or foreign buyer imported to Greece due to the high VAT (23 percent) and additional 10 percent 'luxury goods' tax that led to a cancellation of all planned imports.amna

    The measure also led to further indirect losses of revenue, due to the lower income tax, turnover and profits of Greek companies active in the sector.

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