Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-03
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 03/02/1998 (ANA)
- Parliament approves controversial provision on public utilities
- Tsohatzopoulos meets with top US officials
- Gov't voices hope that farmers will not block highways
- Companies to face olive oil fraud charges
- Washington justifies termination of aid to Greece, Turkey
- Albanian illegals sent back home
- Greece's industrial production up by 0.4 pct Jan/Nov 1997
- Greece to auction 250 billion dr. T-bills
- Greek stocks end lower in reluctant trading
- Greece attracts Spanish tourists
- Singular awarded quality certificate ISO 9001
- 'Mitilineos' plans to invest in Serbian mines
- ETANE projects in Albania
- Greek pasta sector aims at increasing sales abroad
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Parliament approves controversial provision on public utilities
Parliament approved early this morning the government's controversial
amendment bringing about changes in labour relations in public utilities
and enterprises (DEKO), in the face of strong objections by trade
The amendment was carried by 142 votes in favour and 121 against. Two
deputies -former New Democracy ministers Vasilis Kontoyiannopoulos and
Giorgos Souflias- abstained, while 35 were absent -20 of them including
prominent members of the ruling party.
The controversial amendment, whose debate in parliament was regarded as a
test to the major parties' (PASOK, ND) inner cohesion, is actually a
reformulation of Clause 31 in the taxation bill giving the government the
power to intervene by legislative ar rangements in the personnel regulations
of four ailing DEKO - Hellenic Post Offices (ELTA), Olympic Airways, Greek
Railways Organisation (OSE) and the Urban Transport Organisation (OASA).
The roll-call vote in parliament was requested by all opposition parties.
Earlier, during the debate, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou
said publc utilities had a slim chance to survive unless they underwent
The minister said the government was giving employees with ailing DEKO the
chance for six months of dialogue and negotiations.
He stressed, however, that if these failed, then the state could not remain
indifferent to "the self-destructive course" of public utilities.
Mr. Papantoniou said he agreed with a seven-point proposal made by the main
opposition ND party, but invited ND leader Costas Karamanlis to expandout
on whether his party would bring in legislation, as did the government, on
changing labour relations.
He further described public utilities in pessimistic terms, explaining that
some of them had huge debts, such as OASA with a deficit of 88 billion Dr.,
OSE with 116 billion Dr. and ELTA with 20 billion Dr.
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis termed the
controversial clause "sudden, hypocritical, improvised, unstudied and
fragmentary which fails to touch the overall problem of DEKO."
He analysed his party's seven-point proposal, saying that it is a
"programme for the real upgrading of an ailing public sector."
Mr. Karamanlis said his party is committed to tabling an integrated draft
law on restructuring the public sector in a month's time and called on the
government to respond, withdraw the amendment and attend an "explicit and
Meanwhile, General Confederation of Workers of Greece, GSEE, President
Christos Polyzogopoulos had said the ratification of the amendment will be
considered a "hostile act" by trade unions.
Mr. Polyzogopoulos warned that the amendment is leading to a confrontation
which will last for many months, adding that GSEE will not allow the
running down of DEKO to make their privatisation easier. He stressed that
no federation will be left to tackle consequences alone, adding that the
possibility of generalised strike action is visible.
Tsohatzopoulos meets with top US officials
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday met with US Assistant
Secretary of State for European Affairs Mark Grossman, the Vice-chairman of
the US joint chiefs of staff Joseph Ralston and ambassador to Athens
Nicholas Burns. According to press reports, the minister and the US
officials exchanged views and information on the recent crisis with Iraq,
while the US government did not ask Greece for its support or to facilitate
The same press reports state that Mr. Grossman said that the US is awaiting
for the diplomatic initiatives to defuse the crisis and Mr. Tsohatzopoulos
pointed out to Mr. Grossman that all diplomatic efforts must be exhausted
for a peaceful setlement of the crisis.
Gov't voices hope that farmers will not block highways
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday expressed the hope that
protesting farmers would not eventually block main highways as in the past,
"since then we have all become wiser".
Mr.Reppas also expressed regret that farmers' representatives had not
entered into talks either with the Agriculture Ministry or the Agricultural
Policy Council, adding that their protest action was aimed solely at
harming the government.
The spokesman once again rejected farmers' calls for direct talks with
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, saying there were specific bodies for this,
while the Agriculture Ministry was "always open".
Compared to last year, Mr. Reppas said there were not more problems (in the
agricultural sector) but simply the same restrictions imposed by the
European Union "and therefore there is no justification for protest
Meanwhile, farmers protesting the government's agricultural policy
yesterday blocked the road leading into Preveza for 30 minutes. They said
yesterday's protest, without the use of tractors, was a warning and that
further action would follow in the coming days. Columns of tractors from
all over Thessaly began to appear yesterday afternoon on the outskirts of
Larissa, central Greece, gathering at the "Viocarpet" junction on the
According to the estimates of the farmers' Panthessaly Coordinating
Committee, about 2,000 tractors were expected to take part in the
The country's business world said it considered new mobilisations by
farmers in their present form a mistaken tactic with serious consequences
for the Greek economy and production.
An announcement issued yesterday by presidents of Chambers of Commerce,
Federations and Confederations of Greek commerce stresses that "it is not
permissible for the Greek economy to be used as a hostage by groups
deciding to exert pressure on the state , violating laws and preventing
citizens and enterprises from continuing their activities smoothly."
Companies to face olive oil fraud charges
"Styl T. Shipping Company SA," "Katerina T" and "Marral II" companies will
face fraud charges at a Piraeus court.
All three are accused of allegedly importing olive oil from Tunisia,
Gibraltar and Turkey, which they then "baptised" it into Greek and sold it
in the European Community, thus receiving subsidies and avoiding taxation,
damaging both the EU and Italy.
The alleged fraudulent gains are 7.3 billion drachmas.
Washington justifies termination of aid to Greece, Turkey
A decision by the Clinton administration to terminate foreign military aid
to Greece and Turkey is actually a result of the maturing in relations
between those two counties, according to the Director of the Office for
Resources, Plans and Policy of the US State Department, Graig Johnstone
during a press conference here yesterday given on the State Department's
budget. The US official stressed there was now no "need for the same levels
of assistance that we have had in the past in order for these countries
to continue to play active roles in NATO". He added the US had had
consultations with both countries on the issue. Mr. Johnstone further said
that Greece and Turkey had now "graduated" away from an assistance
relationship and were much more like the other NATO member-countries.
"I think it is part of a normal process", he said, adding that "this is the
right moment to do it, and we have gone ahead and done it".
Albanian illegals sent back home
The number of Albanian illegal immigrants trying to cross the border into
Greece illegally is increasing rapidly. Police in the Epirus region
arrested 541 Albanians over the past three days and sent them back to their
country through the Kakavia border post.
Greece's industrial production up by 0.4 pct Jan/Nov 1997
Greece's industrial output rose by 0.4 percent in the first 11 months of
1997 compared with the corresponding period in 1996, national statistics
office said yesterday.
Industrial production was unchanged in November from the same month in
The statistics office said that total output in electricity, mines and
manufacturing increased by 1.0 percent in the period January-November.
Greece to auction 250 billion dr. T-bills
The Bank of Greece will auction interest-bearing state bonds in electronic
form today, with an issue date of February 5, 1998 and a one-year
Bonds valued at 250 billion dr. will be auctioned, while the interest
earned on the bonds is subject to 10 percent tax.
Individuals and private-law legal entities may submit tenders via credit
institutions, while public-law legal entities, social security funds and
brokers may submit offers directly to the central bank.
Tenders will be accepted for a nominal value of at least 100 million dr.,
in multiples of one million dr., while each investor is allowed to submit
up to two competitive offers.
Greek stocks end lower in reluctant trading
Greek equities moved lower yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange with
investors remaining on the sidelines ahead of a Treasury bills auction
today and developments in a dispute between the government and trade unions
over changes in the labour market.
The general index closed 0.21 percent down at 1,398.39 points. Sector
indices were mixed. Banks rose 1.02 percent, Insurance eased 0.36 percent,
Leasing increased 0.58 percent, Investments fell 0.22 percent, Constructions
dropped 2.11 percent, Industria ls rose 0.36 percent, Miscellaneous was
0.59 percent off and Holding was 0.27 percent down.
The parallel market index for small cap companies surged 2.63 percent up,
while the FTSE/ASE ended 0.67 percent higher at 766.51 points.
Trading was moderate with turnover at 13 billion drachmas.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 127 to 75 with another 19 issues
Thrace Plastics, Sysware, Viokarpet, Allatini and Desmos scored the biggest
percentage gains while Ippotour, Nafpaktos Mills, Bank of Athens and Elmec
suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 19,370 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,800, Alpha
Credit Bank at 14,750, Delta Dairy at 2,780, Titan Cement at 13,195,
Intracom at 14,730 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,
Greece attracts Spanish tourists
Tourist arrivals from Spain to Greece are expected to rise by 7-8 percent
this year, repeating last year's performance, Hellenic Tourism Organisation
president Giannis Stephanidis said yesterday.
Mr. Stephanidis represented Greece's tourism authorities at the Madrid
International Tourism Fair.
More than 167 countries and 4,000 exhibitors participated in the fair, with
visitors numbers totalling 95,000 (35,000 professionals and 60,000
Singular awarded quality certificate ISO 9001
Informatics company Singular acquired a certificate of quality certificate
ISO 9001-TickIT by Bureau Verltas Quality International (BVQI).
The certificate covers the entire range of Singular's activities, such as
design and development of software products, installation and support
service of computer systems, as well as its activity in the construction of
'Mitilineos' plans to invest in Serbian mines
"Mitilineos" industrial group has began efforts to invest on the Serbian
"Bor" mines at the border of that country with Bulgaria, looking at a long
term 2- billion-dollar plan. The Stasinopoulos group HALKOR also expressed
interest in investing at the "Bor" mines, in effect re-starting the
cooperation, which stopped due to the embargo against Serbia.
ETANE projects in Albania
Projects carried out in Albania by the construction company ETANE, through
its subsidiary ETAN OVERSEAS SA amount to four million dollars. The company
recently received approval from the National Economy Ministry to construct
a unit for the production of concrete ingredients in Tirana. The investment
amounts to 70 million drachmas and is subsidised by 35 per cent.
At the end of 1997, ETANE delivered the new Hieratic Academy to the
Orthodox Autocephalus Church of Albania worth 400 million drachmas.
Greek pasta sector aims at increasing sales abroad
The pasta sector in Greece, given that the local market is relatively
replete, is relying on the widening of sales through exports activities.
The competitive presence of Greek products in the international market,
having great prospects for development, can be achieved with the creation
of big production plans and a decrease in production costs, as well as
through the development of exports marketing by enterprises.
These comments on the pasta sector were made in the latest sector study by
the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE).
The study points out that the consumption of pasta products in Greece
amounts to about 90,000 tons, showing a small increase in the region of 2-3
per cent a year in past years. The value of this market approaches 45
billion drachmas and represents about one per cent of the total consumption
Consumption per capita is among the highest in the world and amounts to 8.5
kg a year, the highest being Italy's 27 kg.
In the supply sector, the local sector is composed of a group of eight big
enterprises which cover 80-90 per cent of the market. The production of
pasta products remained stable at around 80,000 tons throughout the 80s,
while in 1996 it increased to 122 ,000 tons due to modernisation and
expansion investments carried out by some of the enterprises.
Exports in 1996 amounted to 44,000 tons, showing an increase in the region
of 28 per cent a year since 1988. The biggest quantities have been absorbed
since 1995 by eastern European countries and primarily Albania and Russia,
while the most traditional markets are located in European Union member-
states and primarily The Netherlands and Britain.
Clouds and rainy weather will prevail throughout Greece today. Fog in the
morning. Winds variable, light to moderate, turning into strong in the
evening. Rain and storms in the Aegean and Dodecanese islands. Athens will
be overcast with temperatures between 8-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 2-8C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 287.640
Pound sterling 469.097 Cyprus pd 536.156
French franc 46.888 Swiss franc 194.184
German mark 157.143 Italian lira (100) 15.930
Yen (100) 226.503 Canadian dlr. 196.983
Australian dlr. 197.081 Irish Punt 394.380
Belgian franc 7.615 Finnish mark 51.913
Dutch guilder 139.406 Danish kr. 41.235
Swedish kr. 35.422 Norwegian kr. 37.944
Austrian sch. 22.332 Spanish peseta 1.852
Port. Escudo 1.536