Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-20
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 20/02/1998 (ANA)
- New development incentives bill tabled in Parliament
- Deadline for EU citizens wishing to vote in Greece
- PASOK youth organisation to proceed with conference
- EU Commission responds to question on Greek mobile phone tax
- Karamanlis meets in Brussels with EU, NATO leadership
- Britain's Blair turns down Theo Bassett's request
- Greenpeace members on trial in Thessaloniki
- New fleet commander named
- Cloning proponent Seed arrives in Greece
- Greece has the lowest level of part-time employment in EU
- Eurocourt convicts Greece
- US trade delegation to visit Greece
- Greek money market calms, rates drop below 15 pct
- Greeks back part-flotations for state-run utilities
- Gov't submits bill to parliament on overdue loan charge
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
New development incentives bill tabled in Parliament
A bill containing new development incentives aimed at boosting private
investments was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
The bill concerns revision and reorientation of incentives for the
country's economic and regional development.
The following basic changes are introduced in the regime governed by Law
1892/90, which is abolished, namely:
Subsidisation of capital is replaced by subsidisation of the interest rate
and tax exemptions for existing enterprises carrying out modernisation and
Subsidisation of capital is maintained for new enterprises and special
forms of investments.
The largest degree of free subsidisation is reduced to 40 per cent, while
the minimum participation of the investor increases correspondingly to 40
It is determined that Zone C (average degree of support) includes regions
having major problems in employment.
Subsidies for the creation of new hotel units are restricted and funds are
directed to investments which improve the quality and differentiate the
A ceiling is set for the subsidy paid for each new permanent job created.
The ceiling is 15 million drachmas per job. It will be controlled for five
years from the time of completion of the investment.
Emphasis is placed on modernising and strengthening the international
competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises with tax exemptions
and subsidies for joint investments, etc.
Support is given for integrated business plans to salvage and restructure
viable enterprises in the manufacturing sector and in mines.
The process is simplified for the approval and monitoring of plans by old
or new enterprises for the granting of investment loans.
Changes are introduced in the system of appraisals of applications for new
enterprises and special investments (subsidisation incentive).
Deadline for EU citizens wishing to vote in Greece
Citizens of other EU countries wishing to vote in Greek local government
elections this year, and for the Europarliament in 1999 -- provided they
have been residing in the country for at least two years -- will have to
submit applications by March 31.
Applications should be submitted to prefectural headquarters for those
residing in prefecture seats, and directly to municipal authorities for the
Greek citizens residing abroad may inquire at local consular authorities.
PASOK youth organisation to proceed with conference
PASOK's youth organisation yesterday decided to hold its conference despite
of a request by PASOK's political secretariat to postpone it.
The political secretariat issued a press release stating that it attempted
to avert what it called a "divisive development".
Furthermore, the political secretariat decided not to support the youth
conference if it takes place under present terms, but recognised that the
final decision belongs to the youth group's leadership, since it is
A coalition that includes the "reformists" wing within the youth organisation
is currently abstaining from the conference's procedures.
PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said that postponement could aid the
youth organisation to better organise its functions.
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou requested that the youth organisation
"remain PASOK", and not convey its problems to the party.
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said responsibility for the final
decision lies with the youth organi sation's leadership.
EU Commission responds to question on Greek mobile phone tax
European Commissioner for the internal market, financial services, customs
and taxation, Mario Monti, left open the possibility of the Commission
taking recourse against Greece over its decision to impose taxes on mobile
Mr. Monti was responding to a tabled question from Pol.An Euro-MP Nikitas
"If the relevant law is being imposed only on private mobile phone
suppliers in Greece and affects competition in favour of the state
organisation OTE, then the measure in question should be examined on the
basis of the European Union's competition rules," Mr. Monti's response
"All issues of violation of Community legislation should be referred to the
European Court," he ended.
Karamanlis meets in Brussels with EU, NATO leadership
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday met here
with EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Mr. Karamanlis said their talks
focused on employment and agriculture issues.
Mr. Papoutsis said that the government and the opposition must coordinate
efforts to confront the problems Greece is facing in qualifying for
Economic and Monetary Union.
Later in the day, Mr. Karamanlis met with Commissioner Hans van den Broek
for talks on the EU's foreign relations.
Mr. van den Broek said that Cyprus and EU-Turkish relations were the focus
of their discussion, while he noted that the issue of Turkish Cypriot
participation in the island republic's EU accession talks is important.
Later, after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, Mr.
Karamanlis said: "We discussed all issues of mutual concern. On the
question of the new structure of the alliance, I told the Secretary General
that it is acceptable, provided that the sovereign rights and national
interests of Greece must not be abused . I pointed this out because we have
the experience of the factor of the continuous escalation and provocativeness
by Turkey, which must probably have led to the prediction or maybe to the
future prediction of certain special settlements."
Britain's Blair turns down Theo Bassett's request
Eight-year old Theo Bassett, of Skipton, England, is quite clear about
where the Parthenon Sculptures should be. "I think we should give the Greek
people their marbles back. I think that would be the right thing to do," he
told British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a letter after an inspection of
the Parthenon. "It is a very important building for the Greek people," who
had no say when Lord Elgin "got the marbles off the Turks" in the early
19th century, he suggested. The reply was disappointing:
"The Government recognises the importance of the history of Greek culture
and thinking to all modern Europeans. However ... the Sculptures were
legally acquired and are vested in the Trustees of the British Museum.
Under the Museum's governing statute (British Museum Act 1963) the trustees
are prevented from disposing of objects in the Museum's collections unless
they are duplicates or worthless...
"The Sculptures form an integral part of the museum's whole collection. The
Government believes that any general attempt to return legally acquired
objects to their countries of origin could result in dispensing some of the
world's great collections," said the reply.
Greenpeace members on trial in Thessaloniki
Two members of the international environment advocacy group Greenpeace will
stand trial at a Thessaloniki court for participating in a takeover of a
local petrochemical plant in December 1994.
"We are being charged for doing what the state should have done," said the
head of the Greek office of Greenpeace, Stelios Psomas. He and the
organisation's campaign chief, Nikos Haralambidis, will be in the
On Dec. 2, 1994 and following a four-day takeover of the plant, the
environment ministry, in cooperation with the Macedonia-Thrace ministry and
National Bank, decided to end production ozone layer-depleting substances.
New fleet commander named
The council of chiefs of general staff yesterday decided to promote Vice-
Adm. Nikolaos Katsaros to the post of fleet commander and with the rank of
The regular promotions and retirements board meetings will begin March
Cloning proponent Seed arrives in Greece
Controversial Chicago physicist Richard Seed reiterated here yesterday that
he was determined to begin experiments on human cloning, expressed the hope
that he would be able to work with Greek scientists in the venture.
Dr. Seed, who arrived in Athens yesterday and is due to give a press
conference at a private clinic today, said that for the time being he had
not decided in which country to begin his experiments.
Greece, along with other European countries, has signed a protocol banning
human cloning experiments.
Meanwhile, renowned Russian geneticist Yuri Verlinski, who is also in
Greece, told a press conference in Athens yesterday that he was in favour
of cloning experiments, provided they did not involve humans.
Greece has the lowest level of part-time employment in EU
According to a study by the National Employment Institute, Greece has the
lowest level of part-time employment at 4.8 per cent, compared to the
European Union average of 13.5 per cent.
The results of the study were unveiled yesterday during a press conference.
However, in Greece temporary or part-time employment is compulsory in
contrast to EU countries, where it is voluntary.
According to data, one in 10 workers in Greece is temporarily employed and
40 per cent of those workers are women.
On the question of the country's workforce, 63.8 per cent are obliged to
work on Saturdays and 33.2 per cent even on Sundays. According to figures,
13.9 per cent are also obliged to work at night.
The settlement of work schedules is not been used in Greece as a means of
redistributing employment, crea-ting new jobs or safeguarding jobs in loss-
making sectors or declining regions.
"Despite steps taken in our country over past years to modernise the labour
relations system, the Greek model of employment continues to be dominated
by the ideological hegemony of the five-day, eight-hour work week", the
study states, adding that Greece presents considerable differences in
employment models and in organising work time compared to most EU countries,
particularly northern countries.
For example, Greece has the lengthiest work week (44 hours), while the
average for the EU is 38.8 hours. At the same time, it has the highest
frequencies of overtime work and extra work.
EU countries have focused in past years on the need for greater flexibility
in the labour market since the globalisation of production and markets and
high percentages of unemployment have started to threaten correlations
existing to date.
For this reason, Greece has started to be interested in new forms of labour
and the differentiation of institutional frameworks so that they will
reflect the new reality of labour.
Eurocourt convicts Greece
The European Court yesterday convicted Greece for failing to adjust several
laws to European Union norms.
The European Court ruled that Greece has not promoted necessary legislative
clauses to comply with directive 90/434/EOK concerning the taxation status
for mergers, divisions, contributions of assets and exchanges of shares
regarding companies from diffe rent member-states.
The government has stated that it will enact necessary legislative clauses
and that this settlement is pending in Parliament.
US trade delegation to visit Greece
A US trade delegation of medical equipment suppliers will visit Athens
February 23-24 in order to find representatives for their products or form
The US Embassy's commercial section is to arrange a meeting of the eight
firms' representatives with Greek businesses.
The delegation is also visiting Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
One firm in the group builds and supplies hospitals under turnkey
Greek money market calms, rates drop below 15 pct
Greece's money market is stabilising steadily with interest rates falling
below 15 percent for the first time in several months.
Bankers said yesterday that one-month interest rates dropped to 14.75
percent, and the overnight rate fluctuated around 10.50-10.75 percent.
In the interbank market the drachma fell by 0.18 percent and 0.19 percent
against the DMark and the Ecu respectively. It was slightly firmer, however,
against the US dollar.
The Bank of Greece reported capital inflows totalling 20 million US dollars
at the drachma's daily fixing.
Greeks back part-flotations for state-run utilities
The majority of Greeks support the government's policy for a gradual
flotation of public utilities, an independent survey released yesterday
An survey by ICAP conducted last October in five major Greek cities (Athens,
Thessaloniki, Iraklion, Patras and Larissa) with samples from 600
households and 280 businesses, showed that 57.6 percent and 94.3 percent
respectively welcomed a recent part-p rivatisation of Hellenic Telecommunications
More than 62 percent of Greek households agreed with the government's plan
to partly privatise public utilities.
Public Power Corporation was the first choice for privatisation (59
percent), followed by Olympic Airways (12 percent).
The survey showed that respondents supported the flotation programme for
public utilities for two reasons: the first was that flotation provided an
easier way to fund restructuring programmes; and the second that by
entering the stock market public util ities would be better monitored and
Gov't submits bill to parliament on overdue loan charge
The national economy ministry yesterday submitted to parliament an
amendment to the law covering compound interest charged by banks on overdue
The new legislation provides for a capitalisation of overdue payments on
all categories of loans (housing, credit card, consumer, business) every
six months instead of three.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that the
amendment was a compromise between banks and borrowers in order to maintain
stability in the domestic banking system.
Fair weather in most parts of Greece today. Local clouds in the west of the
country from the afternoon. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning
strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with temperatures
between 4-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.121
Pound sterling 466.736 Cyprus pd 534.291
French franc 46.763 Swiss franc 194.253
German mark 156.746 Italian lira (100) 15.900
Yen (100) 225.859 Canadian dlr. 199.194
Australian dlr. 191.952 Irish Punt 390.273
Belgian franc 7.595 Finnish mark 51.685
Dutch guilder 139.083 Danish kr. 41.128
Swedish kr. 35.224 Norwegian kr. 37.567
Austrian sch. 22.280 Spanish peseta 1.852
Port. Escudo 1.532