Athens Digest 28.12.2018

• Church bombing rattles authorities: 2 injured, no warning given before blast

• Greece eyes January start for FYROM deal ratification

• Primary surplus target smashed, arrears holded back

• Dealers named for 2019 bond sales

# Authorities have been rattled by another Christmas holiday attack after a bomb was left on the steps of a central Athens church minutes before parishioners were due to arrive for a morning service. The blast at the Church of St Denis in the central Kolonaki area injured the caretaker and a police officer who had arrived to examine a suspicious package. The crudely-made time bomb exploded after no warning was given, which is customary in attacks in Greece, mostly claimed by militant anti-establishment groups. The attack follows the bombing of private Skai television earlier this month and has fuelled fears that a younger generation of militants is preparing a renewed wave of violence.

# Greece is eying a January date to start the ratification process on the Macedonia-name deal. Greek diplomatic official, widely quoted in the local news media, said the date could be brought forward by more than one month after lawmakers in FYROM complete the required constitutional amendments. “We are not going to leave this issue pending for New Democracy,” the official said. “We have the majority in the parliament for both the Prespa agreement and a vote of confidence if needed.” Accelerating the Greek side of the process would allow approval of FYROM’s entry into NATO by the summer.

# Greece has smashed it’s primary surplus target this year through November, recording a balance of EUR 7.626 billion _ breezing past the official goal of EUR 4.071 billion. The figures reflected the recent mix of strong revenues, clamps on spending and weak arrears repayment, with the last two held below the targeted amounts. The state failed to fully cover all arrears to the private sector.Rebates – excluding returns via a post-memorandum obligation to cover the state’s arrears- reached 3.181 billion euros, down by 475 million euros from the target. The revenue categories that showed the highest increases include sales and other indirect taxes. Budget revenue exceeded targets in the categories of individual income tax (0.2 percent), corporate income tax (4.3), property taxes (0.8), VAT (0.3), other consumption taxes (9.4), indirect taxes (4.3), other non-tax revenue (2.0). Targets weren’t met in the categories: special categories income tax (-2.5 percent), direct taxes (-5.7), car registration duties (-6.2), special consumption tax on energy products (-0.5), other special consumption taxes (-2.2).

# The Bank of Greece and the Finance Ministry have named 21 banks and financial institutions as primary dealers in the Greek government bond market for 2019. In alphabetical order they are: Alpha Bank SA, Banca IMI SpA, Barclays Bank PLC, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Global Markets Ltd, Commerzbank AG, Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Ltd, Deutsche Bank AG, Eurobank Ergasias SA, Goldman Sachs International Bank, HSBC France (Athens Branch), JP Morgan Securities PLC, Merrill Lynch International, Morgan Stanley & Co. International PLC, National Bank of Greece SA, Natwest Markets PLC, Nomura International PLC, Piraeus Bank SA, Societe Generale, UBS Ltd, Unicredit SpA.

On our Radar: Out Again
Dimitris Koufodinas, the urban guerrilla gunman serving 11 life sentences, has been granted a five-day furlough and will spend New Year’s at home. The 61-year-old leading member of the terror group November 17 was granted his fifth consecutive leave request, despite sustained protest from the governments of the United States, Britain and Turkey whose embassy, intelligence and military officials are among 17N’s victims. Earlier this year, Koufodinas was moved from Athens to a lower-security prison near Volos. Greek critics of the decision to grant him regular furloughs argue that he has expressed no remorse for his actions.