Saturday February 28, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
11o C
6o 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)  
Greece seeks negotiations on ECB bond repayment
Piraeus plans are coming in next few weeks
Slowdown in tourism bookings from Germany
Economy grew by 1.3 pct in Q4 of last year
Tsipras unveils coalition´s first bills, due next week
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras set out on Friday his government’s immediate legislative plans, while at the same time insisting he would continue to pursue debt relief and refuse to sign a th...
Berlin clears extension as lenders ramp up pressure
There was strong backing in the German Parliament on Friday for the extension of Greece’s loan agreement but reports suggested that the country’s eurozone partners would continue to keep up ...
Inside News
BASKETBALL
Spanoulis leads Olympiakos to win over Malaga
A good second half was enough for Olympiakos to get the better of Unicaja Malaga (77-72) and score its seventh win in eight games at the second group stage of the Euroleague on Friday. Playi...
SOCCER
Ten-man Olympiakos couldn´t overcome Dnipro
Olympiakos drew 2-2 with Dnipro from Ukraine at home on Thursday, playing almost the entire second half with a man down, to bow out of the Europa League, despite facing an opponent which on ...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
A unionist agenda
Maybe Greece will not experience a credit event, “because it is in no one’s interest,” as Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris recently assured. Maybe...
EDITORIAL
The beguiling limelight
Too much media exposure is never a good thing and there is no shortage of newcomers in politics who are beguiled by the limelight. What usually comes after this thrall of publicity is the in...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Greece seeks negotiations on ECB bond repayment
2. Spanoulis leads Olympiakos to win over Malaga
3. Piraeus plans are coming in next few weeks
4. Slowdown in tourism bookings from Germany
5. Economy grew by 1.3 pct in Q4 of last year
6. Gov’t plans tax on foreign-based funds
more news
Today
This Week
1. A unionist agenda
2. Greece seeks negotiations on ECB bond repayment
3. Tsipras reversal draws Greek sympathy as party rumblings rise
4. Gov't official: bill reinstating ERT, rehiring staff to go to Parlt on March 5
5. German lawmakers approve extension of bailout program for Greece
6. German MPs begin debate on extending Greek bailout program
Today
This Week
1. Time for Alexis Tsipras to keep his nerve
2. Greek bailout deal faces review by euro officials next week
3. Greece says eurozone deal won time as cash bled from banks
4. The ignorance of the West about the culture of Islam
5. A fierce battle looms
6. Spain said to lead push to hold Greece to terms as Podemos grows
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.