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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-04-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government's red lines are the tax-free ceiling and main pensions, says FinMin
  • [02] PM Tsipras to visit Paris, Strasburg and Brussels this week
  • [03] European institutions agree on measures Greece has to implement, says ECB source
  • [04] Police detains 15 people as part of crack down on Idomeni rumour mill

  • [01] Government's red lines are the tax-free ceiling and main pensions, says FinMin

    The government will not back down on the issue of the main pensions and the tax-free ceiling, both of which Greece's lenders want to be cut and lowered respectively, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said on Tuesday during a joint press conference with Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and Labour minister George Katrougalos.

    "The Greek government is sovereign and it will be the one to decide how the targets of the memorandum will be met," Tsakalotos told journalists, adding that he expects a deal with the institutions to be achieved at an emergency Eurogroup on April 25-26.

    He also said the government will submit next week a tax and pension reform bill. "We're open to dialog - if there's a predisposition for an agreement, the review will be completed, because for Greece to turn a page, the review must conclude and a debate must start on the debt," he said. "We are negotiating with many players that have differences between them, but our difference with the IMF does not increase."

    The finance minister also expressed optimism that a staff level agreement will be achieved by April 22, when the Eurogroup is expected to meet, or an extra Eurogroup meeting could be held on April 25-25 to close the first program review. He did clarify however that the IMF has different forecasts for both the performance of the measures and the primary surplus of 2018.

    On his side, Stathakis said reports that NPLs held by banks will be sold are not true, because the legal framework has not been set up yet. He said the handling of NPLs is among the main issues discussed with the institutions and a solution will be found by April 22. "All our information converge to the direction that the deal will be closed," he told journalists.

    Asked by a journalist if there's a "plan B", Stathakis responded that the government is "working on the direction that the deal will conclude and all information is to that direction."

    Stathakis then went on to say that Greek negotiations and the country's debt will be discussed at the IMF's spring meeting in Washington on April 15-17, adding that the two sides "have not clashed". The negotiation is a procedure that must be completed soon, as well as the debt issue, in order to promote growth, he added.

    Taking his turn, Katrougalos said main pensions will be fully protected, while supplementary pensions will be readjusted by up to 10 pct. He also said a solidarity benefit paid to poor pensioners will not be cut, while 80 pct of the self-employed will pay lower social security contributions when the deal is passed.

    [02] PM Tsipras to visit Paris, Strasburg and Brussels this week

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will pay an official visit to Paris on Wednesday to meet with French President Francois Hollande his office announced. Tsipras is scheduled to hold talks with Hollande at 19.00 at the Elysee presidential palace.

    On Thursday, he will travel to Strasburg for a working lunch with the head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, at noon.

    The prime minister will then visit Brussels to participate as a guest speaker at a working dinner with senior executives of the Alex Springer Foundation at 19.00, where he will present the situation and the prospects of the Greek economy.

    [03] European institutions agree on measures Greece has to implement, says ECB source

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis) – European institutions agree on the measures Greece has to implement to close its first program review, well-informed sources from the European Central Bank told ANA-MPA.

    Asked on the statements made earlier today by ECB's executive board member Benoit Coeure on Greece, a source from the central bank said: "The ECB agrees with the estimations of the European Commission as to the measures Greece has to take to succeed in achieving a primary source target of 3.5 pct in 2018."

    [04] Police detains 15 people as part of crack down on Idomeni rumour mill

    Greek police on Tuesday detained 15 Greeks and foreign nationals who said they were volunteers working in Idomeni, as part of authorities' intensive efforts to stop rumours spreading by unknown individuals who tell refugees and migrants in the camp that FYROM borders could reopen.

    The move follows the violence that erupted at the Greek-FYROM borders when refugees and migrants gathered to protest against the closing of the borders last Sunday.

    According to police, those detained are 5 Germans, 2 Britons, 2 Swedes, 2 Greeks, one Dutch, one Austrian, one Portuguese and one Czech, and were all stopped at the Axios bridge, where anyone who enters Greece from FYROM must pass.

    The detained told police they were helping the refugees but authorities said that none of them belongs to any of the NGOs operating in the area. They were all led to the local police station to establish their identities. Of the 15 individuals, one German national will be led before the prosecutor for possession of a knife.


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