Newsbites @ 9

A morning blast of news nuggets aimed at your breakfast table

Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis is tweeting today, parliament scraps proposal tabled by Syriza to raise minimum wage, finance ministry officials investigating a new list of 107 offshore accounts, and more

Parliament passes new law so that Greece can give potential foreign investors the red carpet treatment (photo by Reuters) Parliament passes new law so that Greece can give potential foreign investors the red carpet treatment (photo by Reuters) INVESTMENT Rolling out the red carpet to foreign investors, parliament approved legislation late on Thursday to cut the red tape and in some cases completely remove it by making big projects eligible for fast-track licensing. The new law also foresees the creation of a one-stop-shop agency for investors. Today, Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis will be holding a public debate about the new law on Twitter hashtag #anaptyxiakos. He says he will answer every question in real-time between 11am and 1pm. Here's the tweet he sent out yesterday, inviting questions. 

PARTY Veteran left-wing politician and former Syriza leader Alekos Alavonos launched a new political party favouring the Greece's return to the drachma on Thursday. Despite strong public support in the country for the euro, Alavanos, 63, announced the formation of the Plan B party - arguing that the austerity programme has caused lasting damage and that membership of the 17-strong eurozone is no longer in the national interest.

MOSQUE Athens Mayor Yiorgos Kaminis says he fully supports plans for the city’s first (state-funded) mosque since the end of Ottoman rule. Addressing a meeting of municipal council members on Thursday, he said the creation of the mosque will finally allow for the registration of makeshift mosques in Athens. There are an estimated 120 such places of worship. He said the ideal would be for only one or two of these small mosques to continue operating in each municipal district once the new mosque in Eleonas opens.

WAGES A parliamentary committee on Thursday night decided to scrap a proposed bill tabled by main opposition Syriza that would have raised the minimum wage back to 751 euros. The minimum wage was slashed by 22% (32% for workers under the age of 25) last year. The committee said its decision to block the bill is based on Article 73, paragraph 3 of the constitution which prohibits parliament from introducing a bill or amendment to a bill if it results in an expenditure or a reduction of revenues for the state. Only government ministers have the right to table such bills or amendments.

UNEMPLOYMENT Self-employed people who are out of work can apply for a special monthly benefit from their local branch of OAED, the state unemployment agency, as of Monday. People  who can prove they have been out of work since January 2012 will be eligible to draw monthly state assistance for up to nine months. Only those whose income for the tax years 2011 and 2012 did not exceed 20,000 euros (or 30,000 euros per household) will be eligible to apply. Those who owe money to their social insurance fund will not be eligible.

PETITION A newly-founded Greek committee against police torture has just launched an online petition. Members of the committee, which is backed by local human rights groups, are scheduled to hold its first press conference in Athens on April 9.

POOP Pet owners who do not clean up after their pets in parks or on pavements are due to be handed out a 100 euro fine by municipal police officers, based on a new law that comes into effect on Monday. Also, those who mistreat their animals could be fined up to 30,000 euros.

OFFSHORE Finance ministry officials are reportedly investigating over 100 Greek offshore bank accounts, using a list compiled by the Washington-based international consortium of investigative journalists (ICF) as their guide. Titled Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze, the ICF’s report tracks the alleged involvement of officials, their families and associates in various countries. In Greece, only four of 107 offshore accounts held by Greeks have been lawfully registered by the Greek tax authorities. Most of the undisclosed accounts are reportedly held by businessmen and shipowners.

MAIL Students are now eligible for a 30% discount each time they mail a package in Greece, according to an announcement made by the Hellenic Post Office (ELTA).

UNIVERSITY The Hellenic Open University, a distance teaching and open learning institution, has announced 2,300 open spaces for undergraduate and graduate programmes. Eligible students will have between April 13 and May 7 to apply online. The university will hold a lottery on May 10. For more information, visit the university’s website.

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