Friday March 27, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Greece to cut industrial energy cost, defying lenders

By Harry Papachristou

Greece will reduce industrial companies' energy costs to save two struggling steelmakers, the government said on Tuesday, shrugging off objections from international lenders that the move might blow a hole in Athens' finances.

It was further evidence of the debt-laden country adopting a more assertive stance towards its creditors as it tries to soften the impact of bailout-imposed austerity policies on its depressed economy and mitigate record unemployment.

Halyvourgiki and Hellenic Halyvourgia, two of Greece's biggest steelmakers, said last week they would dismiss or suspend about 320 workers at their Athens factories because they could not compete due to high electricity costs.

This sparked a public outcry and Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said the government would override objections by the so-called «troika» of international lenders and introduce flexible power prices to lower the firms' costs.

Athens will push through so-called «interruptibility» agreements, under which big power consumers can briefly take their factories off the grid and get refunds from Greece's state-run power network operator, Hatzidakis said.

The troika has hitherto blocked such deals because it fears they could strain the finances of both the grid operator and utility concerns that would foot the bill. Greece's energy system nearly collapsed in a liquidity crisis in mid-2012.

"This will displease the troika, but the way things stand, we have no choice,» Hatzidakis, whose ministry is in charge of industrial policy, told radio station Skai.

Electricity accounts for more than half of the troubled steelmakers' operating costs, a senior executive of one of them told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

An austerity-fuelled, six-year recession has hit Greek construction hard, slashing domestic demand for steel products to about 300,000 tons a year from 2.5 million before the crisis, according to the senior executive.

Hellenic Halyvourgia sustained a net loss of 37 million euros and Halyvourgiki of 58 million, according to their latest published financial statements for 2012 and 2011 respectively.

"We're operating at just 10 percent capacity,» the executive said. Exports that could compensate for some of the domestic slump are not competitive enough to match rivals in neighboring Italy or Turkey which have lower costs, he added.

Greece will resume talks with lenders on Monday to agree on the disbursement of rescue loans under the country's 240-billion euro bailout.

Emboldened by a budget surplus it may have achieved last year, Athens wants its lenders to cut it some slack and refuses to take on any new austerity.

The unemployment rate soared to a record 28 percent in November. Greece's fragile government, which trails the opposition in the polls and whose survival may hang in the balance in European elections in May, has pledged to fight joblessness.

[Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday February 18, 2014 (18:40)  
Bank deposits lost another 7.6 billion euros last month
Cash concerns keep Athens bourse action tight
Athens among top tourism destinations
High prices weigh on local organic market
ND, PASOK say coalition signed up to tough terms
Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday ratcheted up the rhetoric of the main opposition New Democracy party, which he still leads, in a scathing statement which accused the SYRIZA...
Greek defense minister heads to USA after controversy
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos heads to New York this weekend for Greek Independence Day celebrations after finding himself at the center of a controversy that led to the US Congress failin...
Inside News
BASKETBALL
All is well that ends well for Olympiakos
Young Ioannis Papapetrou helped Olympiakos stage an impressive last-quarter performance to beat visiting Efes Anadolu 86-75 on Thursday and bring its Euroleague losing streak to an end. The ...
BASKETBALL
Reds survive KAO Dramas scare in Piraeus
KAO Dramas gave depleted Olympiakos a scare at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Monday, but the league leaders eventually managed to get their 20th win in 21 games. The Reds won by 10 (72...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Time to get moving
More than two months have passed since the elections and the government has to stop running around in circles and adopt a program of specific reforms, with detailed calculations as to their ...
COMMENTARY
A competent crew is key
Greek politicians are mostly strangers to technocratic management and deft bargaining. The political system has regrettably unraveled the country’s public administration – a process set in m...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. All is well that ends well for Olympiakos
2. ND, PASOK say coalition signed up to tough terms
3. Greek defense minister heads to USA after controversy
4. Police find Xeros’s bomb-testing spot
5. Judges send 32 to trial for kickbacks in submarine deal
6. Greek, Chinese FMs discuss deepening countries’ ties
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece optimistic on deal with euro area next week
2. Opposition renews calls for minister to resign over legal cases
3. Greek foreign minister explores deepening of ties with China on Beijing visit
4. Fed's Bullard: Grexit would be a Greek issue, not a euro issue
5. Stathakis against scrapping tax breaks for islands
6. New Xeros safe house found near Athens, police say
Today
This Week
1. Next Monday is D-Day for state funds
2. Total victory is unattainable
3. EU asks Greece for more reforms to speed talks on bailout
4. PM faces Merkel amid race to detail reforms
5. New book by ex-US diplomat delves deeper into the recesses of Greek terrorism
6. Some more equal than others
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.