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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-20

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 20/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 expansion investments.

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 per cent.

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 tourist product.

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 rest.

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 autonomous.

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 phone use.

Mr. Monti was responding to a tabled question from Pol.An Euro-MP Nikitas Kaklamanis.

"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 read.

"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 dock.

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 rear admiral.

The regular promotions and retirements board meetings will begin March 1.

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 joint ventures.

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 deals.

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 shows.

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 Organisation.

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 more efficient.

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 loans.

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.

WEATHER

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- 14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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