Greece beats 2012 deficit targets

According to an official announcement issued on January 10 by the Ministry of Finance, Greece has beaten budget and primary deficit targets for 2012.
stournaras123The data indicate a state budget deficit of €15.908 billion, compared to a target of €16.312 billion deficit. The report on government budget execution also showed a primary deficit of €3,684 billion, as opposed to a target of €4.577 billion.
Compared to the previous year, the budget deficit fell by €6.866 billion, while the primary deficit is also lower by €2.742 billion, with the state budget balance shrinking by 30.1% compared to 2011.This was due to drastic expenditure cutbacks, which counterbalanced a shortfall in revenues attributed to the reduced inflow of funds from the EU toward the Public Investment Programme.
State budget spending was €355 million lower compared to the target fixed in the national budget.
In a related development, Haris Theoharis head of Finance ministry’s General Secretariat of Information Systems was also appointed to the post of permanent a General Secretary for state revenues, it was announced on January 9.
Ministry of Finance: Announcement on 2012 Budget Execution (in Greek) & Report on 12-month Budget Execution (in Greek); Greek News Agenda: Primary Budget Record Surplus
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Greece: 4th preferred destination in 2012

Providing interesting insights into the preferences of European travellers, the Eurobarometer survey reveals that 4% of European tourists are planning to spend their holidays in Greece in 2012, compared to 10% in Spain, 7% in Italy and 6% in France.
Moreover, Greece was the 6th most visited country in 2011. The survey also reveals that the majority of EU-residents are confident travellers, who prefer arranging their holidays by themselves, although they still rely on recommendations from family and friends about where to go. For this Eurobarometer survey, over 30,000 randomly selected citizens were interviewed in January 2012 in the 27 EU Member States as well as in Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Israel.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Greece: Attracting Tourism Development

Greece ranked 29th among a total of 139 countries in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) regarding competitiveness for the tourism sector.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report is issued annually and grades countries on a total of 60 indicators, including policy regulations, resources, safety, prices and environmental protection. According to the survey, Greece benefits from its rich cultural resources (ranked 25th), excellent health and hygiene (20th), and a top-notch tourism infrastructure (5th). Further on, the report refers to the country’s strong national affinity for tourism (compared with many other European countries), including a generally open and positive attitude toward tourists (26th). The report ranks Greece 21st among European countries.
World Economic Forum: 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou at the World Economic Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Speaking as part of a panel – that also included Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet – at the annual World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland (January 27 -31), Prime Minister George Papandreou said that Greece would not leave the euro area and would use the discipline of membership to slash its budget deficit and make long-delayed structural economic reforms. “The answer is very simple. We went [to the market] for borrowing two days ago and we were five times oversubscribed. We’re not looking for money from anywhere else…” said Papandreou. He outlined an ambitious goal to reduce the deficit by four points this year and bring it below 3% by 2012, through measures taken as part of Greece’s Stability and Growth Programme (SGP)
The premier held a meeting with EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia yesterday, and the discussion focused on Greece’s SGP in light of the report that the European Commission will be submitting on February 3, on Greece. 
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso – speaking in Brussels on Thursday – stressed the need for the greater coordination of economic policies in the EU, emphasising that economic policies are not only a national issue, but European as well. Referring to Greece specifically, he expressed the conviction that the Greek government must be supported in its effort to fulfil its commitments in the framework of the SGP. 
See world reports – BBC.co.uk: Davos 2010: Greece denies a bail-out is needed; Reuters.com: Greece says being targeted as euro zone “weak link”

High Quality Bathing Waters in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The European Commission’s latest report regarding the quality of bathing water during the 2008 season puts Greece in one of the top spots for cleanest bathing waters.  The parameters taken into account for the assessment – according to the mandatory quality standards of the updated 2006 Bathing Water Directive of the European Union – are the amount of microbiological, physical and chemical elements.  After monitoring several bathing water samples, the results of the report confirmed that Greece’s coastal bathing waters and freshwater in lakes meet all the standards set by the EU. The countries with the best scores in bathing water quality are: Cyprus (98.2%), Greece (97.7%), France (96.3%), and Malta (94.3%). European Environment Agency: State of Bathing Water

Hellenic Aid to the World

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Greece is a UN “Millennium Development Goals” contributor and grants $501million annually in foreign aid to third world countries, which amounts to 0.16% of its GNI (2007) thus ranking 21st  worldwide in Official Development Assistance (ODA), and aiming at the 2010 European Union target of 0.51%.  Within the new strategy launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aiming at achieving the Millennium Development Goals, Hellenic Aid (www.hellenicaid.gr) promotes humanitarian and food aid programmes provided by N.G.O.s and volunteerism, as well as co-operation among national N.G.O.’s taking action in developing countries. Developed countries (according to the 2007/2008 UN Human Development report, Greece ranks 24th out of 177 countries), nowadays, form a rather small minority within the international community. The developing world still constitutes the majority of the globe’s population, living under conditions of extreme poverty. espite the improvement of certain general living conditions as well as the increase of the global wealth and technological potential, this part of the world remains extremely vulnerable to diseases, natural disasters, and state authoritarianism. On November 26, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have reaffirmed their commitments on aid to developing countries and undertaken to abstain from trade protectionism, as part of a concerted drive to shore up the world economy and combat recession. OCDE: Greece – Aid at a Glance Chart &  Updated [25 November 2008] Donor Aid Charts (2006-2007) & Official Development Assistance by Donor & Debt Relief is down: Other ODA rises slightly  Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece – Economic Diplomacy and International Development Aid

Doing Business in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   According to the Doing Business 2009 Report, Greece has improved its overall Ease of Business index, moving up to rank 96 (from 106 in 2008). Greece cut the minimum capital requirement to start a business by 80%, reduced capital tax and made publication of company statutes quicker. It also introduced electronic payment of social security tax, and passed a new bankruptcy law that is expected to allow more companies in distress to emerge as going concerns. Finally, Greece strengthened director accountability by making it easier for shareholders to sue directors for damages caused by related-party transactions.  The Doing Business Report, published by the World Bank Group, is tracking reforms in 181 economies. Greece’s areas of reform were: Starting a Business, Protecting Investors, Paying Taxes, Closing a Business  InvestInGreece Agency: www.investingreece.gov.gr; Competitive Greece: Surveys on Competitiveness;  Ministry of Economy &  Finance: Tax Reform & Investment Incentives Law  Greek News Agenda: The Greek Economy-Pointers; Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece- A New Economic Policy: creating a favorable environment for investment  Secretariat General of Information: World Media on Greece – Special Reports