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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-05-03
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Liquidity CementedMonday, 03 May 2010 17:36
Europe welcomed the new austerity measures taken by Greece and the agreement brokered for the activation of the support mechanism. The European Central Bank said it will accept all Greek government bonds as security for loans, even if their credit rating continues to fall. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested rating agencies be monitored.
Greek Lenders Cemented
The European Union welcomed the agreement for the activation of the bailout package for Greece. EU officials have started expressing their conviction that Greece will make it, while the European Central Bank took an important measure to support the Greek economy.
The European Central Bank said it will accept all Greek government bonds as security for loans, even if their credit rating continues to fall. The above move means to relieve both Greece and the eurozone lenders, since bonds will remain eligible as collateral for loans
The Greek banking system has been cemented, commented Finance Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou, voicing his satisfaction over the ECB's decision.
In the meantime, Handelsblatt paper, one of Europe's biggest financial newspapers, called on it viewers to purchase Greek bonds as an act of solidarity with Greece.
The "purchase-Greek-state-bonds" campaign has already been welcomed by several German distinguished figures.
After the activation of the support mechanism, bond spreads fell from 600 basis points to about 577.
The bailout package for Greece means to help the country to avoid turning to the world markets in the following 18 months, underlined the IMF chief in his interview with a French paper.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 36176
 Majority of Opposition Heads Deny Meeting at Political Leaders' LevelMonday, 03 May 2010 15:18
The appeal for a meeting of the political leaders under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic was met with scepticism on the part of Antonis Samaras, Aleka Papariga and Alexis Tsipras. Only Giorgos Karatzaferis said yes to such a meeting. The ND head insisted the political leaders meet before the conclusion of the negotiations with the IMF and European experts and the release of the new austerity measures. The KKE President dismissed the appeal, while SYRIZA head Alexis Tsipras also expressed his objections.
ND: "There Is No Point in Having the Meeting"
There is no point in calling a meeting of the political leaders' council after KKE and SYRIZA said no, argued the director of the ND President's office Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos.
Arvanitopoulos noted that ND President Antonis Samaras had requested a meeting of the political leaders before the conclusion of the negotiations with the IMF and European experts and the release of the new austerity measures.
Aleka Papariga Objects the Meeting
Greek Communist Party (KKE) head expressed her objection to the meeting of the political leaders and unveiled the proposal submitted by her party's parliamentarian group requesting the MPs' pension be abolished.
Elaborating on her negative stance, Papariga stressed, "If the invitation -because it is the Prime Minister's proposal and not an initiative taken by the President of the Republi - had been made before the release of the measures, we would have accepted it."
"We declined the invitation sent by Mr Papandreou who wishes to send a message to his allies and blackmailers at the same time that despite disagreements in Greece, there is a dialogue under way and that we are all willing to back the measures."
Papoulias Meets Tsipras
SYRIZA head Alexis Tsipras refused to take part in such a meeting, after exiting his meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. He blasted the government for trying to use the institution of the President of the Republic.
Upon his arrival at the Presidential Mansion, Tsipras said: "We are living through historical moments. We are all responsible. The government's measures are unfair and ineffective and do not have the society's consent."
Karolos Papoulias, on his part, commented: "I feel what you are saying. We are all responsible. The problem dates several years back. Perhaps we failed to react when we should have reacted and we let things go."
Karatzaferis Is in Favour of the Meeting
In the meantime, LAOS President Giorgos Karatzaferis stressed: "It is beyond by belief how it is possible the political leaders saying no to President's call for a meeting. There is no time to waste. Our presence is important, even if some of us do not see eye to eye with others."
Touching on the austerity measures unveiled by the government, he feared that they may be proved ineffective.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA
News item: 36172
 Tough Austerity Measures-ReactionsMonday, 03 May 2010 14:58
Sharp cuts in public sector wages and pensions, as well as changes in labour relations, are included in the new austerity measures announced Sunday by the Greek government. Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinides argued that the government's goal is to protect the low-income earners. GSEVEE-ESSE fear the new measures could have an adverse on the market and employment. The relevant bill will be submitted to Parliament in the coming days.
In a bid to trim Greece's fiscal deficit and debt, the government announced a new package of tough austerity measures.
The toll on the public sector employees and pensioners is to be rather heavy, since the 13th and 14th wages given at Christmas and Easter were severely reduced.
In particular, in the public sector
* wages above 3,000 euros won't be entitled to the 13th and 14th wages, while
* they are turned onto a benefit amounting to 250 euros at Easter and for vacations and to 500 euros for Christmas for those whose wages are below 3,000 euros
* wages and pensions will be frozen for three years
* bonuses will be cut by 8% and by 3% for those working in DEKOs.
For example, teachers whose wages stand at 1,000 euros and bonuses at 500 euros will lose 1,000 euros by the cuts in the bonuses and the 13th and 14th wages.
For pensions up to 2,500 euros, Easter and vacation bonuses will stand at 200 euros, while that of Christmas will amount to 400 euros.
There will be no need for additional measures, reiterated Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinides, further stressing that measures will be taken to support the low-income earners.
In the meantime, new changes in the taxation system are in the making. There will be hikes in the tax levied on fuel, alcohol and tobacco, while the value-added tax rate will be increased by 2%.
Changes in labour relations in the private sector will also be introduced. The government's plan aspires to reshape labour legislation with regard to compensations and the redundancy threshold.
GSEVEE and ESEE Sound the Alarm
The representatives of the small and medium-sized enterprises fear the new austerity measures could have an adverse influence on the market and employment and called for measures capable of boosting growth and investments mostly in small enterprises.
"The major problems will start surfacing as of September, after the tourist period runs through. At the beginning of 2011, we will witness things beyond our belief," predicted GSEVEE head Dimitris Asimakopoulos.
He said that 30% of the Greeks are flirting with bankruptcy, which as many as 65,000 enterprises are on the verge of going under.
According to the GSEVEE head, the measure taken will result in prolonged recession and cause several enterprises to shut down.
"If there are not a great number of enterprises going under, we will get a Nobel in Economics," commented Asimakopoulos.
News item: 36168
 Greece and Qatar Embark on Joint Energy ProjectsMonday, 03 May 2010 14:21
Greece and Qatar signed a non-binding memorandum giving Qatar the opportunity to expand energy investments in the Mediterranean country. The memorandum is also aspired to pave the way for a more systematic energy talks between the two sides.
Greek Environment Minister Ms Birbili commented: "This development offers a new cooperation scheme between Greece and Qatar capable of attracting foreign investments, creating new jobs and upgrading research on energy matters. Therefore, Greece's strategic goal to prove a natural gas transit hub towards SE and central Europe is reinforced.
Investments in Greece
In his talks with Greek Premier George Papandreou, the Gulf Emirate's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani expressed his country's desire invest 5 billion dollars in Greece.
Papandreou, on his part, after hailing the good ties between the two nations, touched on the memorandum signed for the construction of an energy centre on Astakos isle.
Qatar's Prime Minister commented on his country's true will to invest in Greece. He underlined, though, the need for Greece to trim red take so that investments in Greece go unhampered. News item: 36166
 ECB Accepts Greek BondsMonday, 03 May 2010 10:55
The European Central Bank said it will accept all Greek government bonds as security for loans, even if their credit rating continues to fall. The above move means to relieve both Greece and the eurozone lenders, since bonds will remain eligible as collateral for loans.
French FinMin Wants Rating Agencies to Be Monitored
"We did not want to lend at super attractive rates so as not to encourage the service," Christine Lagarde
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde criticized ratings agencies Monday, blaming them for fueling the Greek debt crisis and saying she will authorize France's market regulator to monitor their activities.
In an interview with Le Monde, Lagarde said the downgrade 15 minutes before markets closed was "crime inducing" because it incited everyone who held Greek debt to offload it without thinking before markets shut.
"We must, of course, better control" ratings agencies with rules to keep them from downgrading a country in a "hasty, deplorable" way, she said in a separate interview with Europe-1 radio.
Source: Associated Press News item: 36149
 "Those Responsible for the Crisis Should Be PunishedMonday, 03 May 2010 10:00
Those responsible for the crisis should be punished, said President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias while talking with the Prime Minister before journalists. The latter briefed the President on the developments in economy after the new package of austerity measures was released. "I'm certain that the Greek people will respond, but they have to be convinced there will be justice. That tax evasion will be combated. That those who got rich at the expense of the Greek people will be punished," stressed Papoulias, further noting, "each crisis has its own potentials." "It is up to every one of us to turn this crisis into a chance," underlined the Prime Minister.
G.Papandreou: A Well-Governed State Is Key Priority
"I'm certain that the Greek people will respond, but they have to be convinced there will be justice. That tax evasion will be combated. That those who got rich at the expense of the Greek people will be punished" K. Papoulias
"Our prime concern is to create a well-governed state. The feeling that anything can go unpunished corrodes a democratic society," said Prime Minister George Papandreou, also underlining that Greece is living through a tough period yet a chance for a fresh start.
The President of the Republic appeared certain that the Greek crisis, as all crises, will offer new possibilities.
"Our crisis is offering possibilities for a new Greece, a Greece of justice and solidarity. Solidarity with those who suffer and are going to suffer," claimed he.
Bill on Exceptional Measures Submitted to House Tuesday
Addressing an inner cabinet meeting held Sunday, George Papandreou termed the avoidance of bankruptcy as a "national line" and underlined his determination to serve the Greek people's interest.
"We are determined to not take a step back," argued he, further estimating that at the end of his term "Greece will not go bankrupt. It will revive."
The government is expected to submit the bill on the exceptional austerity measures to the House.
The President of the Republic also met with SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) head Alexis Tsipras, who said while entering the Presidential Mansion, "We are living through historical moments," further adding, "We are all responsible. The government's measures are unfair and ineffective and do not enjoy the society's consent. "
Welcoming Alexis Tsipras, Karolos Papoulias stressed: "I feel what you are saying. It is everybody's responsibility. The problem dates several years back. Maybe we did not react when we should have and we let things go."
Papoulias concluded saying, "We have to do our best lest the weak become weaker."
Karatzaferis' Statements Prior to Party Meeting
In the meantime, LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) Giorgos Karatzaferis, prior to a sitting of his party's Parliamentary Group, said: "It is beyond my belief how it is possible the President of Republic inviting the political leaders, with the latters coming up with excuses avoiding his invitation. There is no time to waste. Our presence is necessary, even if some of us do not see eye to eye with others."
With regard to the austerity measures released Sunday by the government, Karatzaferis expressed his concern.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 36146
 New Industrial Actions AheadMonday, 03 May 2010 09:54
Trade unions in Greece will answer to the new austerity measures announced by the government with industrial actions and street protests. People working in local governments went Monday out on a 24-hour strike. ADEDY, Greece's union umbrella for the public sector has scheduled a 48-hour strike starting as of Tuesday. Teachers working in both state and private schools will join the strike. GSEE, an umbrella union for the private sector will stage a 24-hour strike on Wednesday. Public transport in Athens will run from 10am to 4pm.
The industrial actions will be joined by GSEVEE and ESEE, as well as the Piraeus Trade Association meaning that stores will remained closed on Wednesday.
The European Trade Union Confederation issued an announcement expressing its solidarity with the Greek people.
The announcement raid that workers in Greece should not pay an unfair part of the country's bailout package. A CES delegation will meet Tuesday with the European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, to express their concern over the situation in Greece. News item: 36147