Posts Tagged ‘Greece economy’

Greece For Sale – from Guardian.com.uk

June 25, 2010

Greece puts its islands up for sale to save economy

Desperate attempt to repay debts also driven by inability to find funds to develop infrastructure on islands

Elena Moya

Mykonos
Greece is raising cash by selling off an area of state-owned land on Mykonos for luxury tourism.
Photograph: Getty Images

There’s little that shouts “seriously rich” as much as a little island in the sun to call your own. For Sir Richard Branson it is Neckar in the Caribbean, the billionaire Barclay brothers prefer Brecqhou in the Channel Islands, while Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy on Skorpios, his Greek hideway.

Now Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sunkissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts.

The Guardian has learned that an area in Mykonos, one of Greece’s top tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale. The area is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer willing to inject capital and develop a luxury tourism complex, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Potential investorsalso looking at property on the island of Rhodes, are mostly Russian and Chinese. Investors in both countries are looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean as holiday destinations for their increasingly affluent populations. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, is among those understood to be interested, although a spokesman denied he was about to invest.

Greece has embarked on the desperate measures after being pushed into a €110bn (£90bn) bailout by the EU and the IMF last month, following a decade of overspending and after jittery investors raised borrowing costs to unbearable levels.

The sale of an island – or convincing a member of the international jet-set to take on a long-term lease – would help to boost its coffers. The Private Islands website lists 1,235-acre Nafsika, in the Ionian sea, on sale for €15m. But others are on for less than €2m – less than a townhouse in Mayfair or Chelsea. Some of the country’s numerous islands are tiny which could barely fit a single sunbed.

Only 227 Greek islands are populated and the decision to press ahead with potential sales has also been driven by the inability of the state to develop basic infrastructure, or police most of its islands. The hope is that the sale or long-term lease of some islands will attract investment that will generate jobs and taxable income.

“I am sad – selling off your islands or areas that belong to the people of Greece should be used as the last resort,” said Makis Perdikaris, director of Greek Island Properties. “But the first thing is to develop the economy and attract foreign domestic investment to create the necessary infrastructure. The point is to get money.” In its battle to raise funds, the country is also planning to sell its rail and water companies. Chinese investors are understood to be interested in the Greek train system, as they already control some of the ports. In a deal announced earlier this month, the Greek government also agreed to export olive oil to China.

After the socialist government of prime minister Geórgios Papandreou responded to the IMF bailout with draconian budget cuts, rioters took to the streets, costing three lives in May.

In the midst of the crisis, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, delayed her support as she faced local elections and popular opposition to any public-funded help to Greece.

As strikes almost paralysed the country and hedge funds bet against the economy, German politicians called for Greece to start selling islands, historic buildings and artworks. It now appears that the Greek government has heeded their demands.

The City, where investors are increasingly shunning Greek investments, welcomed any island sales. “It’s a shame if it has come to this but it does at least demonstrate that Greece is prepared to take all actions necessary to try and meet its obligations,” said Gary Jenkins, a credit analyst at Evolution Securities.

Property prices have fallen between 10% and 20% since the May riots in Athens, as bad publicity has drawn visitors away, Perdikaris said.

“We have experienced a very slow booking season. Most tour operators offer hugely discounted rates,” he said. Britons account for more than 60% of his company’s property sales.

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/24/greece-islands-sale-save-economy

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Stranded in Greece? No worries! Greek tax payers will come up for room & board!

June 22, 2010

Flight canceled?   Train stuck ?   Cruiser off shore? 

   ARE YOU A TOURIST STRANDED IN GREECE?    

                             NO WORRIES!

   Greek Tourism Minister will pay you extra room & board.

    But only if you are a foreign tourist!

    Greek tourists and tax payers seem to be excluded. 

     

Greece ‘to pay costs for stranded tourists’ – A BBC- story

Greece says it will cover the extra costs for any tourists stranded in the country as a result of industrial action or natural disaster.

The offer is part of an effort to improve Greece’s image, which has been damaged by strikes and protests over government austerity measures.

Tourism generates almost 20% of the nation’s income, but bookings are down by about 10%, industry experts say.

Strikes are continuing, although the number of violent clashes has eased.

Greek tourism has also suffered the effects of the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, which spewed vast quantities of ash into the sky for days, blocking air routes.

‘Signs of recovery’

We are guaranteeing to pay any extra room and board any visitor in Greece pays even if stuck here because of a volcano in Iceland,” said Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.

Mr Geroulanos said tourism seemed to be recovering, although it was too early to make accurate forecasts.

“The numbers are not really as gloomy as they were with the first cancellations,” he told a press conference.

“Some destinations have suffered greatly due to the crisis, but others are doing better than before.”

The Greek government is imposing a swathe of austerity measures in return for a 110bn-euro (£95bn) bail-out from the EU and IMF.

The aim is to cut the country’s public deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2014. It currently stands at 13.6%.

But strikes in protest at the measures have brought the country to a standstill on several occasions, closing airports, roads and railways.

Mr Geroulanos also unveiled a new internet drive to advertise Greece as a tourist destination.

from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/10372235.stm

Sudden Winter Outbreak in Greek Labor Market!

June 18, 2010

I have been complaining the whole day about the heat-wave in Athens. A heat that went even higher as Greece bet Nigeria in Mundial 2010.

But now, as we head towards evening, temperature drops. Not much, but enough to let me sit on a comfort chair and enjoy my plants and flowers on my fourth floor balcony. A friend will pass by later and we will chat on light issues like God and the World.  I think, but I am not that sure anymore… Then not reporting “ugly things” does not mean that “ugly things” don’t happen.

The ugly news of these days is the new laws about easing layoffs.  

Easing layoffs in times of recession means a sudden winter outbreak in the Greek Labor Market. A sudden winter amid a summer heat-wave!

Under pressure by EU/IMF imposed austerity measures Greek Government decided to make it easier for large companies to lay off employees and workers, in order to make the labor market more flexible and economy more competitive as it is justified.

Flexibility, competitiveness and economic boasting are apparently possible through cutting labor costs and prices.

According to a Competivity Survey by International Institute of Management Development, Greece ranks 52 among 57 countries.

 EASY LAY OFFS:

Dismissal threshold goes from 2% up to 5% per month.

That means companies with more than 150 workers will be allowed to fire 30 people per month.

COMPENSATION

Employers issuing 1 to 4 month dismissal notices will be allowed to pay  50% less compensation.

NEWLY HIRED

Minimum wages for newly hired will be trimmed from EUR 740 day down to

EUR 592 for 18-21 years old &

EUR 629 for 21-25 years old

Private Sector Union-GSEEE speaks of Casus Belli and threatens to appeal to European Court of Human Rights.

GSEE and Public Sector Union-ADEDY have called for a general strike on June 29.

The Real Current Situation today

I know people who have been fired with one-day or two-week notice.

I know newly hired (University Diploma), who work full time job of 10 h/day for EUR 400, no social security or other benefits.

I know people of 45+, who were ‘forced’ to get a job of EUR 800 after 25 years of working experience.

Recent months wage cuts in public sector, wage bonuses cuts in the private sector, tax and VAT hikes, shrinking of buying power and uncertainty about possible new austerity measures have forced the average Greek household to drastic cuts of private spending.  This dominoes to the closure of many small businesses and shops and the layoff of hundreds employees and workers.

According to official data unemployment hit 11,6% (April 2010) and inflation went up to 5,4% (May 2010).

As recession deepens Greeks do not dare even to peep what’s in their future.

Greece-Nigeria: the Goals in 3D

June 18, 2010

Greece Nigeria 2-1

See the goals in 3D !

GOoooaaaAAAAaaaLLLllllLLSSSsssSSS

June 17, 2010

GREECE   2

NIGERIA  1

Salpigidis, Torosidis

 

Sorry seems to be the hardest word!

June 17, 2010

Amid the song and dance of famous “Wedding Party on a Battleship” – the AVEROF, you know… -, which became talk of the country, I forgot, or better say, I didn’t catch up with other important news and issues that affect crisis-suffering Greeks. You may have understood by now that one of my blogging hobbies is the corruption-related scandals of politicians,  bribes of state officials , tax evasions of famous singers.

Here is the point where I have to make a confession. It is much more spicy to do my research about the “Bold and Beautiful” of local High Society & Showbiz than to write about the “Old Boys” in local Politics  like Tsochatzopoulos,  Mantelis or even Vourloumis.

Blogging about the Greek VIPs turns my grey life into a colorful one: the pictures are joyful, the stories light, the heels high, the sand golden and the sea blue…  Even if the stories end up in political resignation (Gerekou) or insult history (Averof-Part).

Thus these stories/pictures have a didactic purpose as well: I can see how hair extensions can totally change my image, how extreme surgery can ruin my face, how shiny make up can potentially grant me a reduction by the local deli.  

On the contrary, blogging  about  Old Boys – broken men in their 70’s – appearing in their grey/blue business suits turn my grey life into black. They cause psychological harm, they trigger the ultimate depression. Not only in terms of colors.

These stories are depressing because these old boys have ‘sweetened’ their own life and  ‘kicked back’ mine. Because they are still walk around. Because they are still among us!!!

As Sir Elton John predicted years ago “Sorry seems to be the hardest word!”

The Greek Patient: Hospitals’ Supplies Shortages

June 16, 2010

FATAL SHORTAGES IN GREEK HOSPITALS –   SUPPLIERS BLACKMAIL THE GOVERNMENT

IS THERE A WAY TO ESCAPE BRIBERY?

Man carries away his Greek Patient wife from a state hospital after doctors and nurses attempted to steal her gauzes

Greek Hospitals… a place to avoid

The pictures in the greek state hospitals has always been embarrassing for an EU-countryPatients would wait for endless hours in crowded corridors inhaling the sticky air. They would be examined in wardrobes-like rooms by doctors who would often not even stand up. Examination at a distance, I’ d call it. 

I have had my foot bandaged with the cheapest material, had an x-ray performed by a not properly working machine.

I have visited dirty and broken sanitary facilities.

I have hunted cockroaches climbing up the wall in the room where my freshly operated father was laying.

I have shared the care of a nurse with other 29 patients

 I have met security staff execute tasks of a nurse or administrative personel

Medical supplies Shortages – Fatal for the GREEK PATIENT , who can’t affort to go “Private”

Since months there have been reports of basic medical material shortages like gauzes, gloves and cotton. There have been cases where relatives have been asked by doctors to go to the next pharmacy and buy themselves the needed material.  But now the situation has gone out of control. There are no sutures, syringes and bandages, dialysis filters or x-ray films.

Daily Kathimerini  revealed a few days ago that major Hospitals in Athens were not in position anymore to carry out operations or tests. For example, “the Evangelismos Hospital in downtown Athens was in no position to carry out heart operations due to a lack of vital supplies… Shortages of orthopedic equipment and filters for life-support machines were also reported.  The Sismanogleio Hospital in northern Athens said that it does not have test tubes to carry out blood tests and it has run out of film for its X-ray machines. At the Sotiria Hospital, doctors are unable to carry out tests for hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis. At the Ippocrateio Hospital in Thessaloniki, shortages mean that blood tests cannot be conducted. Hospitals on Naxos and in Sparta have encountered similar problems.”

Emergency surgeries have been postponed due to the shortage putting in danger the life of patients.

Why the shortages?

The problem started when the Government  and the Health Ministry decided to tight the spending budget due to economic crisis and the austerity measures imposed by IMF/EU bailout. Cutting spendings in Health means cutting prices in drugs, cutting prices in medical supplies.

But it has often been revealed in the past that producers and importers/suppliers charge even 100% + more when they sell their products in Greece.

When Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou decided to reduce the price of  dialysis filters for kidney failure patients the hell broke out.  Xenogiannakopoulou asked the price to be 25 EUR per filter. According to TV reports, suppliers sell the filter for 40 EUR, while in Europe it is sold for 7 EUR.

The DePuy International Ltd bribery case – Artificial Knees for THE GREEK PATIENT

Last April a former boss of a Leeds medical joint makers has been jailed for a conspiracy to bribe Greek doctors to help secure contracts worth millions from their Government.
Robert Dougall, 44, of Fulthorpe Green, Billiingham, former vice president of DePuy International Ltd – formerly Charles F Thackray Ltd – was given a 12-month sentence after admitting a charge of conspiracy to corrupt over almost four years up to December 2005.

Prosecutor John Kelsey-Fry said corruption in the Greek medical supplies sector was “endemic” and “common knowledge” and all but “standard practice” in this market.

Emails from DePuy directors had speculated that 95 per cent of the company’s business would be lost if bribery was stopped.

In the landmark hearing at Southwark Crown Court, DePuy, part of the US multi-national Johnson and Johnson, was said to have paid local agents to give a series of sweeteners to doctors and medical officials to secure the massive deals.

Dougall, paid £95,000 a year, had overseen a “policy” of corruption in which doctors received £4.5m in bribes to secure DePuy £20m in business.
Surgeons were lured into promoting DePuy products with payments ‘in kind’, including expensive holidays.

Dougall is the first British executive prosecuted by the Serious Fraud
Office (SFO) for overseas bribery.

The corruption resulted in orthopaedic supplies prices in Greece soaring to twice the European average. An artificial knee climbing to £4,400, against a European average of £2,200.

The court was told that between 2002 and 2005, DePuy made £4.5m worth of payments to two intermediaries in Greece: brothers Nikos and Christos Karagiannis. They bribed surgeons to recommend DePuy’s products for supply to the Greek national health service.

The bribes were hidden by the company disguised as “professional education”.

(from http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/ExLeeds-boss-is-jailed-over.6228470.jp)

 
 

 

Greek Ministers: Deal struck with hospital suppliers – Military Hospitals for THE GREEK PATIENT

Finance minister offers mix of cash and bonds to appease providers and avert dangerous shortages

Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou emerged from a long meeting with state hospital suppliers yesterday, saying that they had reached a preliminary deal to settle state debts using a combination of government bonds and cash with the primary aim of averting a dangerous shortage of medical supplies.

Earlier in the day, doctors had warned that the government’s failure to break an impasse with suppliers could put patients’ lives at risk.

Suppliers demanding their dues had provided only basic provisions to hospitals over the past few days, in an attempt to force the government’s hand on its debts to hospitals. According to Dimitris Varnavas, the president of the Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors’ Unions, hospitals are experiencing shortages of everything from gauzes to pacemakers. The head of the union representing doctors in the capital, Stathis Tsoukalos, said the crisis was the climax of a long-burgeoning predicament. “The problem of hospital supplies has gone on for years but the situation needs to be resolved immediately,” Tsoukalos said.

A meeting between Xenogiannakopoulou and suppliers on Monday had ended in deadlock with the minister accusing the providers of blackmail for freezing deliveries of crucial hospital consumables.

In a related development yesterday, Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a press conference that the country’s military hospitals would be able to contribute to the treatment of citizens if state hospitals experience any problems

(from www.ekathimerini.com)

Greeks Protest Prices at Super Market!

June 16, 2010

Image

Unprecedented scenes unfolded in a big Super Market downtown Katerini (Central Greece), when some 50 people, arriving simultaneous at payment counters asked for a 15% discount.

As expected the management of the Super Market refused to grant the requested discount. And what did the consumers do? They simply walked out leaving behind a mountain of filled shopping baskets.

This original idea of protesting high prices was initiated by the “Voluntary Action Group Pieria”, a group of active locals.

 According to website O TOPOS MOU  the angry and frustrated consumers protested the high prices of basic necessities and the sharp decrease of income.

 “Our family income fell by 20% only in the last 4-5 weeks, our purchasing power is shrinking day by day, while the profits of your company grow. Amid economic crisis, galloping inflation, companies like yours are making profits at double-digit numbers. Get the phone now, call the headquarters in Athens and tell them what we ask! ” said the angry consumers.

Image

While waiting for the answer from Athens people started to raise their voices demanding immediate reduction in prices.

Other consumers shopping at the store joined the protesters and patiently waited.

“Furious mothers with children, pensioners with a trembling voice, and even high school students stood firmly next to each other asked the obvious: to protect the citizens from the multinational companies and the big sharks, who undisturbed prey on  the Greek market. “ reported the website. At the end the protesters moved to a local super market that promised them 5% mass reduction.

Greeks pay 40% to 80% more than other Europeans

It is a common practice in Greece that the same consumer goods are sold 40%-80% higher than in other European countries like Germany, Great Britain or France, when salaries are average lower in average.

Some Greek Media have often blamed the price cartels, fixing prices among international producers selling in Greece. Other accused the corrupted system. While  others see high transportation costs as the reason why the Greek consumer has to pay more to buy a bag of detergent, a tube of tooth paste or a bottle of Coca Cola than his German or French counterpart.

Broken Milk Cartel

Two years ago the milk prices cartel was broken, when businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos reduced the price for 1 Liter fresh milk from EUR 2 down to EUR 1.

I personally, having moved to Greece from abroad, was astonished to buy one liter of Milk for whole 2 Euros!  Now Vgenopoulos’ fresh milk is sold at 1,01 EURO in Super Markets. At the same time the consumer can find milk of different brands sold for up to 1,80 EURO.

Where shall I get the money for the Price Increases from? Inflation rate!

Last month Development Minister Louka Katseli had meetings with businessmen asking them to reduce prices for consumer goods. The purpose was to reduce prices so consumers could buy products thus avoiding a total stagnation (stagflation) and an upcoming unemployment. The dialogue ended fruitless. Having failed to force price-reductions in order to catch up with Recession the Government raised the VAT.

According to EUROSTAT inflation in Eurozone in May was 1,6 %. In Greece 5,3%.

And we all know that when official inflation is  X-digit, it is XX or even XXX digits on the street.

The result I see every Saturday when I pay the bill at my neighborhood’s Super Market. Since a couple of weeks I pay 15-20 EURO more, that is 60 to 80 Euros more per month. My “shopping basket”  increase is some 30% to 32%.

Where shall I find this extra money I need???

Link for O TOPOS MOY

http://www.anasta.de/TOPOS/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=424&Itemid=1

ASE ingores Moody’s moody move – Rehn’s Attack

June 15, 2010

from capital.gr

Athens Stock Exchange seems to ignore Moody’s downgrade of Greece’s credit rating to Junk status.  Greek Stock Market opened low this morning – even losing 2% at some point – but quickly managed to recover.

Currently (14:00 local time)  the General Index advances 0.57% at 1,549,3 on a total turnover of EUR 58,51 mil.

UPDATE: ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE CLOSED AT 1,530,04 , losing 0,69 % trading EUR 111,15 Million

Yesterday Moody’s Investors Service cut Greek government debt by four notches from A3 to Ba1. Controversially enough and ignoring  Greece’s support by EU/IMF/ECB  Mood’ys gives Greece a ‘stable outlook’ for the next 12 – 18 months

Greece reacts

Moody’s moody move caught many by surprise in Greece.
The Finance Ministry in a statement stated that the downgrade does not reflect the true progress.
Uni sono in the news politicians, journalists, experts and non-experts speak of  Moody’s “unjustifiable and unfortunate” move.
Investors speaking to economy website www.capital.gr  said that  “ Th e four notch credit rating downgrade of Greece by Moody’s yesterday afternoon under normal circumstances could have had a highly negative effect in Athex course. However, given the support offered to Greece from IMF/ECB/EU and the diminished credibility of credit rating agencies lately the result may not be negative,” so ATE Securities.
“Moody΄s unexpected, in terms of aggressiveness, downgrade of Greece by four notches is expected to assert significant pressures on the Athenian bourse, with the banking sector being on the spotlight. Portfolio managers are expected to reduce their positioning on both Greek Government Bonds (GGBs) and equities, possibly creating opportunities for buyers that missed out the chance of increasing their position in the Greek market at the 1,380 – 1,420 units levels,” Pegasus Securities said.
Olli Rehn  Attacks Moody’s
Meanwhile, Olli Rehn, European Economic & Monetary Affairs Commissioner attacked Moody’s. The timing of Moody’s decision to downgrade Greek sovereign debt was “astonishing and unfortunate”, said Rehn and added that Moody’s downgrade had not taken into account latest developments in the country and once again raised questions about the ratings agencies.

“I have discussed with Michelle Barnier [Commissioner internal market] and President Barroso … the timing of the decline is surprising and unfortunate, as it comes shortly after the agreement [between Greece and the Troika] for macroeconomic consolidation,” said Olli Rehn Speaking in Eurpean Parliament in Strasbourg.

He said the measures taken by the Greek government show its commitment towards fiscal consolidation and marked Moody’s  move «inconsistent” with the return of Greek bonds and the prices of CDS in the country .

“This raises questions about the role of  rating agencies  in the financial system” Olli Rehn said, and pledged that the European Commission in the near future will address these issues.

Moody’s downgrades Greece – Greek FinMin Reaction!

June 14, 2010

Moody’s: Υποβαθμίζει την  Ελλάδα σε “Ba1” από “A3”

Moody’s downgrades Greece’s debt to junk status

from Associated Press “Moody’s Investors Service slashed Greece’s credit rating to junk status on Monday in a new blow to the debt-ridden country that is under intense international scrutiny after narrowly avoiding default last month.

A Moody’s statement said it was cutting Greece’s government bond ratings by four notches to Ba1 from A3, with a stable outlook for the next 12-18 months. It was the second of the three major agencies to accord Greek bonds junk status. Standard & Poor’s did the same in late April The downgrades reflect concern that the country could fail to meet its obligations to cut its deficit and pay down its debt — which the Greek government says is out of the question.  After amassing a vast public debt and overspending that sent its budget deficit spiraling to 13.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, Greece was saved from defaulting on its loans in May by the first installment of a joint EU and IMF euro110 billion bailout. It is to receive the second in September, pending implementation of a major austerity program that has sparked strong union reaction and a series of damaging strikes.

“The Ba1 rating reflects our analysis of the balance of the strengths and risks associated with the Eurozone/IMF support package,” said Moody’s lead analyst for Greece Sarah Carlson.  ”

( Read more about Moody’s statement: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iXUJvBknZVGqsBenIusBgBvWj5WQD9GB7D900 )

Immediate Reaction from Greek Finance Ministry

StatementGreek Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou

“The current decline of the Greek economy from the firm Moody’s in no way reflects either the progress made in recent months or the opportunities provided by the fiscal consolidation and improving the country’s competitiveness.

The budget execution data show very clearly that the program has been agreed by Greece in the EU, the ESF and D.N.T. running normally, the deficit has declined 40% compared with 2009. This significant improvement has been recognized by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Moreover, the recession in the first quarter is lower than that for the full year from the Memorandum. Revenue from VAT, which was created during the first quarter increased by 6% while last year had decreased by 11%.

All the different structural measures specified in the Memorandum of Cooperation are implemented properly and many are already ahead of schedule that has been set. And the state debt, although now rising, is expected to de-escalate in 2013 and maybe earlier if it appears to be developed progressively more favorable conditions.

The Greek government remains absolutely committed to the task of fiscal adjustment and improve the development prospects of the country”


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