|News bites @ 9|
1. READY FOR E-DAY? Parliament is scheduled to close for the Easter holiday on Wednesday – paving the way for the formal announcement of the general election date. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is due to meet President Karolos Papoulias at 5pm and is expected to make the announcement after that meeting, officially ending the work of his five-month coalition government backed by Pasok and New Democracy. Ministers in his government this week have indicated that May 6 remains the most likely date.
2. PASOK WANTS PARTNER Pasok would seek coalition partners in a new government even if with an outright win in the general election, Deputy Finance Minister Pantelis Economou said. The revelation came as Pasok clawed back some popular support in the pollsnarrowing the gap with New Democracy to 4 points, and with new leader Evangelos Venizelos rating higher as a candidate for prime minister than ND leader Antonis Samaras. "Mathematically, even if we were the first party, I don't think we should form a government by ourselves," Economou told Skai television.
3. FEWER CIVIL SERVANTS The government has shed 56,000 jobs from public sector through attrition and ending short-term contracts since a census was carried out two years ago. The administrative reform and e-governance ministry said that 712,000 employees currently work for the state, in the civil service and broader public sector, of which 636,188 are on full contracts. The 2010 census recorded a total number of 768,000 employees. The figures are roughly in line with a government target for 150,000 staff reductions by the end of 2015.
4. NEW FERRY STRIKES THREATENED Striking ferry workers will meet after Easter to consider fresh stoppages, despite fierce opposition to the action by the government, tourism and industry groups. Strike organiser Antonis Dalakogiorgos, from the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO), told the Associated Press: "Our strike is in progress with 100 percent participation. Services at all the nation's ports have been suspended." He added: "We will reconsider our position after Easter and take the necessary decisions. There will be new protests if our main demands are not met." The strike has seen the cancellation of ferry services to the islands and Italy until midnight on Wednesday.
5. COPS FOR HIRE In a bid to raise cash, police are offering a 30 euros per hour “cop-for-hire” scheme for private companies or citizens seeking protection at special events. Police said the hitherto free service was provided only under special circumstances, such as cases of high-security risk, and that revenues would be used to fund police equipment and boost the state budget. Hiring a police vehicle escort, for example for the transfer of art works or other sensitive material, will cost an additional 40 euros per hour and a motorcycle escort 20 euros.
6. CHEAPER EASTER SPREAD Consumer group Kepka says the Easter dinner will be up to 15 percent cheap this year, compared to 2011, but urged consumers to shop around for bargains. "There are large discrepancies between the upper and lower prices for Easter meal items, The association said in a statement on Tuesday, basing its calculations on a meal for up to 10 people. "Kepka estimates that this year's Easter meal for 8 to 10 people, with soup, two main courses, two salads, Easter bread, eggs and fruit, will cost between 75.22 and 155.60 euros – that is between 15.86 percent less and 2.33 percent higher than last year."
7. RECEIVED WITH THANKS The Orthodox Church of America on Tuesday handed over a donation of $500,000 to the Church of Greece to be allocated to meals for poor people and humanitarian projects run by the archdiocese. The money has presented by Archbishop of America Dimitrios, who later visited the offices of the archdiocese's Apostoli NGO.
8. COCA-COLA DISMISSES REPORT Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) has dismissed on Tuesday a press report that soft drinks it recalled last month contained a substance which could be dangerous to public health. In February, CCH removed from the market some of its Coca-Cola and Sprite plastic and glass bottles produced at a Greek unit, citing an unusual taste. After a weekend newspaper report said the drinks could cause serious health problems if consumed in large quantities, a prosecutor ordered a preliminary investigation. In February, the Hellenic Food Authority said that consumers had complained about a bad taste and odour in CCH's soft drinks, which the bottler attributed to the presence of two chemical substances, dicholorophenol 2.4 and 2.6.
9. SAD FAREWELL TO HEROES The bodies of the two Pakistani men who tragically lost their lives on Friday when they tried to save an elderly couple whose car had overturned on train tracks were repatriated on Tuesday to Pakistan. Anwar Humayun (18) and Ahmed Wakar (33) died when an oncoming train smashed into the car, which had overturned on the tracks. About 6,000 euros was required to send their bodies home and, after an appeal was sent out by the Pakistani Community, they money was quickly raised from members of the public. Both men were from the same village in Pakistan’s Gujrat district.
and keep in mind the seaman's pension were impacted by the PSI - which was a 70 percent impact .....