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Crete & Greece
March - April  2015
Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis says EU deal a 'fig leaf'
AFP/Kathimerini 27 February 2015
Greece's maverick Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Friday called a
hard-fought EU deal securing a bailout extension "fig leaf" vaguely worded
"deliberately" to secure approval by European parliaments.
"We are proud of the level of vagueness" in the agreement signed with
eurozone finance ministers this week, Varoufakis told Antenna TV.

The outspoken minister said this was «deliberately done» at the suggestion of
Greece's EU creditors "otherwise it would not be approved by (their) parliaments."
The statements were made as lawmakers in Germany -- one of Greece's toughest critics -- voted overwhelmingly in
favor of the agreement that gives Athens four months to work out a new reform blueprint.
"The deal was a fig leaf to conclude the Eurogroup and dispense with the fiscal agreement (Greece's bailout deal),"
Varoufakis said, according to transcripts of the interview on Antenna's website.
Retail sales decline for second month in a row
27 Feb 2015 Reuters
Greek retail sales by volume fell 1.2 percent in December compared to the same month a year earlier, after falling
1.3 percent in November, statistics service ELSTAT said on Friday.

Sales volumes had risen for five months in a row through October on a pickup in consumer spending as the
economy recovered from a protracted recession.

But a rise in political tensions toward the end of the year hit consumer sentiment.

Retail sales in November were revised to a fall of 1.3 percent from a previous reading of a fall of 1.5 percent.

Greece’s international lenders, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, expect the economy to
have recovered modestly in 2014 after six years of deep contraction.

National output is projected to have grown 0.6 percent, driven by tourism, investment and exports.

Hit by the country’s deep economic slump and record unemployment, retail sales declined by about 40 percent in
2009-13, driven by austerity policies imposed under the terms of Greece’s 240-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout.
Greek hoteliers lobby calls on Finmin Varoufakis to keep VAT at current level
28 February 2015 Newsbomb

The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) called on Finance Minister Yanis
Varoufakis to keep VAT for hotels at its current level and said if  the government
wanted to increase its revenues it should fight tax  evasion instead, in a letter
released on Thursday (26/02/2015).

The previous government had plans to raise the 6.5 percent VAT for hotels to 13 percent, as part of obligations
related to the country's loan  agreement. Businesses on Greek islands pay as much as 30 percent less tax than the
mainland, but SETE said the two taxes should not be confused.

SETE stressed that the benefit of raising VAT levels long-term would not justify the losses the islands would incur
from lower bookings and lost jobs,
No official vehicles for 67 MPs
13  March 2015 ekathimerini
Around half of the newly elected MPs in Parliament have chosen not to
have an official car, paid for out of public coffers.

Parliament Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou confirmed Friday that a total
of 67 out of 135 new lawmakers will not be provided with an official

Of the car-less deputies, 47 are from governing SYRIZA.

The MPs who were re-elected in the January 25 election will retain their cars.

The data were published after reports gave inaccurate figures, Constantopoulou said.
Three guilty for alcohol-fueled death of teenager in Crete
11  March 2015 ekathimerini
Three people were convicted on Crete on Wednesday in connection to the death of a 16-year-old girl, who collapsed
after a heavy night of drinking with two friends in 2011.

The 27-year-old man who was with Stella Akoumianaki on the night she was admitted to the hospital was convicted
of sexually assaulting the teenager. He received a seven-year jail sentence but appealed and was released. Another
man, who was also with Akoumianaki on the night but was aged 17 at the time, is to face a separate trial in juvenile

Two doctors at Rethymno Hospital, where the girl was taken to, also received two-and-a-half-year sentences for
failing to properly diagnose her condition, leading to her dying the next day. Their sentences were suspended.
Xeros moved to Hania jail
7 March 2015 ekathimerini
Convicted November 17 terrorist Christodoulos Xeros was on Saturday
' transferred to Hania Prison on the island of Crete. Police said Xeros,
who was previously locked up in Domokos Prison in central Greece,
was transferred on a passenger ferry under tight security.

There was no official statement on the reasons behind the decision to move
the 52-year-old. Xeros was beaten unconscious by another Domokos convict
in late January. There has been speculation that the attack was ordered by members of the Conspiracy of the Cells
of Fire guerrilla group with whom Xeros had developed close ties during his confinement at Attica’s Korydallos
Sifis the crocodile found dead in Crete
30 March 2015 ekathimerini
A 3-meter-long crocodile that became a national celebrity in Greece
after being discovered last summer in a lake in Crete has been found dead.

Cretan media reported that the crocodile, nicknamed Sifis by locals, was not
able to survive the winter. The reptile will be transferred to a natural history
museum, according to reports.

Sifis was first spotted by forest rangers at the Potami dam on the Amari plain
in  June. Since then, though, he evaded numerous attempts to capture him,
including by international experts.

His subsequent fame even led to visitors being drawn to the area to catch a glimpse of the crocodile, whose origins
are unknown.
Crete: 7.330 families living in poverty
28 March 2015

Shocking numbers for the local society. The chairman of the Regional Council, Mr. Giorgos Pitsoulis, revealed
during an event in Heraklion that 7.330 families on the island are living in poverty.

More specifically, 16.083 people are living in poverty according to facts from the Municipalities of the island:
Heraklion: 4.518 families
Chania: 1.425 families
Rethymno: 896 families
Lassithi: 489 families
Minoan Lines to Intensify Passenger ID Checks Upon Embarkation
27 March 2015

Greek shipping company Minoan Lines announced on Friday that it
will intensify identification checks on all passengers boarding its
ships as of April 1.

Passengers will need to present reliable identity proof
(a government-issued photo ID or another official document) upon

Minoan requests that all passengers travelling on domestic routes to arrive for boarding at least one hour in
advance. Passengers on international routes should arrive at least two hours prior to departure.

The company underlined that the rules will be strictly enforced and adhered to.
Carrot to pay income tax all in one go
21 April 2015 ekathimerini

In an effort to bolster crumbling budget revenues, the Finance Ministry is considering offering a 10-15 percent
income tax discount for those who choose to pay their dues in a lump sum this year.

Although the state is desperate for ready cash, the online platform for the submission of income tax statements is
not expected to be ready before May 10, according to Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, with a 10-day
extension to the June 30 submission deadline already being considered.

If there are any additional changes introduced to the statement form, then taxpayers are certain to be granted a
further extension.

The deadline for the first income tax installment is July 31, according to the law.

The revenue shortfall is estimated to have come to nearly 1 billion euros since the start of the year: The latest data
point to a 675-million-euro gap, while in April there was already a hole of 250 million.
Over 8,500 people apply for crisis coupons in Greece
20 April 2015 ekathimerini

More than 8,500 people badly affected by the crisis on Monday applied for food coupons and free electricity under
the provisions of the recently passed “humanitarian crisis” law, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Authorities said that a total of 8,666 people applied on the first day that requests for assistance could be made.

Of those, 6,815 made their applications on their own and 1,851 went Citizens’ Service Centers (KEP) to fill out the
forms with the assistance of staff.
No ferries on Labor Day as seamen take industrial action
Passenger ferries will remain tied up at Greece's ports on Friday,
May 1 2015,  preventing thousands of Labor Day travelers from
reaching their destinations, as the PNO union of ferry workers
on Tuesday declared it a strike day.

PNO is demanding, among other claims, that workers be paid
several months of overdue salaries, and particularly at NEL lines,
as well as more social security benefits, slashed as part of
cost-saving efforts.
Couple sentenced to life over killing of 2-year-old boy
25 February 2015 ekathimerini

A court in Iraklio, Crete, on Wednesday handed life terms to a 20-year-old Bulgarian woman and her 30-year-old
boy-friend, also Bulgarian, after finding them guilty of the murder of the woman’s 2-year-old son in March last year
at their home in the village of Skourvoula.
The pair are said to have dipped the boy in boiling water repeatedly, leaving him with third-degree burns that
caused his death.
In their testimonies to the court, the couple claimed to have put the boy in the water to help him go to the toilet.