Athens Digest 18.09.2019

• Parliament probe committee to omit ex-PM Tsipras

Poll: Rulling New Democracy has expanded its lead over Syriza party to 14.5 percent points

Enhanced surveillance: Do sums add up for proposed installments?

Eldorado signals concessions

Schools to change religion rule

# Parliament is expected to back an investigative committee to examine the actions of the former deputy justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos in handling the Novartis bribery scandal. But Prime Minister Mitsotakis has reportedly ruled out support for any similar process involving his predecessor Alexis Tsipras. The committee will examine claims that officials in the previous government sought to influence a judicial investigation into the scandal that allegedly involved senior political rivals _ including former prime minister Antonis Samaras and Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras. Papangelopoulos had described the Novartis allegations as “the greatest scandal since the creation of the Greek state.”

# New Democracy has expanded its lead over Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party to 14.5 percentage points, an MRB opinion poll for Star television has found. The voting intention survey gave the governing conservatives 36.4 percent projected support, while Syriza attracted 21.9 percent. The Movement for Change received 6.4 percent, the Greek Communist Party 4.8 percent, and the far-right Greek Solution garnered 3.1 percent. Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy won the general election by a margin of nearly 8.5 percent.

# According to reports, preparatory talks with the institution officials in Athens also focused on tax and social security installment schemes, with the government insisting that proposed changes would be beneficial in the long run and help Greeks emerge from the shock of financial crisis. Moreover, the government reportedly wants to double the number of installments in current programmes, typically set at 12 months while creditors argue that the measures would set revenues back by app. EUR 200 million this year alone. In any case, September’s data are needed so as to come to a safe conclusion.

# Eldorado Gold CΕΟ George Burns says the Canadian mining company is in talks with Greece’s government to possibly pay out higher royalties for its Greek operations, according to a Reuters report. Burns said the company is also seeking a strategic partner to help raise US$680 million needed for pending development costs in Greece. He made the remarks during the annual Denver Gold Forum event. Earlier this month, Eldorado Gold ended a long impasse with the Greek government and received vital installation permits for its sites at Skouries and Olympias. The two-year deadlock was broken by the new conservative government which listed the Eldorado investment as a priority, sidestepping environmental concerns which had been expressed by Tsipras government officials.

On our Radar: Schools to Respect Privacy Ruling 
The Education Ministry says it will respect a recent ruling by the country’s Data Protection Authority and change rules on the recording high school students’ nationality and religion. Education Minister Niki Kerameos confirmed the ministry’s intention, meaning that in future nationality and religion will not be listed on school-leaving certificates or an online service run by the ministry.