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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 April 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 APRIL 2016 21 GREECE Piraeus port. PHOTO: WWW.DESTINATIONPIRAEUS.COM Cosco buys biggest Hellenic port Athens' seaport is to be sold to Chinese conglomerate Cosco, after the board reached an agreement with the Greek government last Friday. "This important amended agreement between the two sides comes at a crucial time for Greece at the end of a difficult season and the start of a new, more optimistic one, where emphasis will be given to restarting the economy," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said. The €1.5 billion deal will include Cosco paying the sum of €368.5 million for the attainment of the seaport's 67 per cent, which includes the main stake of the Piraeus Port Authority, plus investments with a projected worth of €350 million. This major privatisation step was heavily criticised by the country's main opposition party, New Democracy. Spokesperson George Koumoutsakos accused the prime minister of "signing on to neoliberal policies". "We welcome his delayed return to reality," he said. Meanwhile, hundreds of port workers, members of the Greek Federation of Port Employees (OMYLE) and a dockworkers union held a rally in central Athens. "The government, despite its pre-electoral commitments, is proceeding to sell off the port. They threw away all the declarations regarding public ports and took advantage of fights between harbour workers in order to take power, and now throws parties to embrace the most neoliberal privatisation," the union's statement said. Greece faces drop in tourism Greece has seen a decrease in tourism bookings this season, according to data cited by Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE). The figures released by Amadeus showed bookings on a yearly basis up until March had recorded a one per cent decline. While there is a negative flow from the markets of Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands, there has been growth from Britain, Russia, Poland and Scandinavian countries. According to a report in Kathimerini, the decline in March has been in part attributed to a flow-on effect from the Brussels terrorist attacks, which they say have generated concern in the travel market. Mr Andreadis also said that Greece's tourism has been negatively impacted by the migration crisis, and ongoing economic uncertainty. The government has also come under fire in recent weeks for the possible introduction of an additional charge for hotel guests, along with plans to increase value-added tax on accommodation and food services to a total of 24 per cent. Mr Andreadis said raising such taxes would be an irrational move and could lead to tourists opting for illegal accommodation options, or travelling to other competitively-priced destinations in the Mediterranean instead. Students condemn Pope’s visit to Lesvos tem of agreements which fosters information exchanges within and between the countries concerned. In this respect, any non-inclusion of a tax haven country raises a considerable risk of leakage and fostering of tax haven activity and tax avoidance. Therefore, it is suggested that Greece should develop a stringent tax treaty policy which includes anti-treaty shopping provisions and exchange of information between member countries and one of those member countries should also include Australia. Finally, it is desirable that the move by Greece's taxing authority is to develop tax treaties, and the exchange of information by TIEAs, that should ultimately be linked with the activities and direction of the OECD on antiavoidance. This is necessary to facilitate an integrated and combined approach to the problem of the use of tax havens and tax evasion on a global scale. *Tony Anamourlis is an international tax lawyer and tax academic and managing principal at Templeton Fox Rothschild. Thousands of students from Thessaloniki's Aristotle University have condemned the impending visit of Pope Francis to Lesvos, branding him a "heretic". The students, who are a part of the University's Theological Department, released a statement this week in which they encouraged their fellow students to rally behind them in support of having the Catholic leader's visit to the island cancelled. According to Dimosiografiko Sigkrotima Makedonia, Greek Orthodox bishops Ambrosios, Serafim and Glyfadas had stirred the students into action, spreading the message that the pope's visit would signify the end of the world as we know it. Since the statement's release, staff at the university have disassociated themselves from the protest and clarified that they do not condone their behaviour in any way. According to a report by Greek publication Kathimerini, the pope's visit is set to go ahead without disruptions. “It’s an extraordinary occasion,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s justice and peace office. “It’s a historic event because something like this has never happened before.” The Vatican said Pope Francis had accepted an invitation from Bartholomew and the Greek president, clarifying it will not be an official state visit but rather a humanitarian one. “The reality was that this was the patriarch’s idea,” said George Demacopoulos, chair of Orthodox Christian studies at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York. “The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece proposed he visit Lesvos and invited Bartholomew to come along. The pro-forma is that he had to go through the archbishop of Athens and the state of Greece to make it happen.” Scheduled to arrive in Lesvos today, Saturday 16 April at 10.15 am, he will pay a visit to refugee camp Morias, where he will meet with local officials and residents, as well as refugees. The pope will then be accompanied by head of the Church of Greece Archbishop Ieronymos; spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with all four expected to sign a joint declaration on the refugee crisis. The pope will depart the island at 3.00 pm. Elektroniki Athinon declares bankruptcy Greece’s leading electronic appliances chain Elektroniki Athinon announced last Wednesday that it has filed for bankruptcy following a court decision. The chain’s remaining 45 outlets officially closed on Thursday, leaving 450 employees jobless. According to Elektroniki, they are owed unpaid wages and are set to receive full compensation in eight months. However, a reconciliation meeting between employer and employees at the request of the Federation of Greek Private Sector Employees, scheduled for Thursday at the Ministry of Labor, has been cancelled. In an official statement, Electroniki Athinon’s management said: “Despite the company’s continuous efforts, the state of the economy, further weakening of the purchasing power of consumers, capital controls, among other things, made foreign suppliers suspicious of Greek companies, and in conjunction with banks refusing to give loans, it was impossible to continue the operation of the company. The business plan, which was co-decided by the banks, suppliers and shareholders in April 2015, had created reasonable prospects for the recovery of the company. The events from June 2015 onwards undermined and then cancelled practically any plan. The result was a tight liquidity problem, lost market share and increase of losses. Therefore, Electroniki, having exhausted all possible options, was led to today’s painful decision.” Electroniki Athinon was originally founded in 1950, and during its 66 years of operation, offered employment to thousands of Greeks. In 1989, it was acquired by current owner Yannis Stroutsis and was listed on the Athens Stock Exchange in 1999. As of 1 October 2012 it had suspended share trading due to outstanding debts to banks, suppliers, and the landlords of the stores. Once an insolvency administrator is appointed by the court, the liquidation of company assets will commence; estimated to last about eight years.
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