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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-12

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, 12/08/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • IMF urges economic austerity, public sector overhaul for Greece
  • Simitis hosts Jospin on Aegean holiday
  • Focus on Orthodox Church finances
  • Signal flares discovered in Cretan forest
  • Smoking ban at archaeological sites
  • Italian investment for Drama
  • Drowning, windsurfing accident
  • Minion department store to reopen
  • Abolition of 15% tax on repos planned
  • Greek stocks dive in the wake of turmoil in world markets
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

IMF urges economic austerity, public sector overhaul for Greece

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Greece to implement its economic austerity programme strictly and carry out a radical restructuring of the public sector.

In its annual report on the Greek economy, the IMF congratulated the country on its 13.8 per cent devaluation of the drachma on March 14, linked to entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism.

It also welcomed the implementation of a monetary policy that aims to take Greece into the EU's economic and monetary union (EMU) by 2001.

The IMF noted that Greece's targets for 1998 and 1999 were feasible, but attainment could not be guaranteed.

The budget deficit should fall to 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product in 1999 and 0.8 per cent of GDP in 2001, which is why a radical overhaul of the public sector was needed, the report said.

The IMF criticised the existence of a broad and ineffectual public sector, and the state's ubiquitous presence in the economy.

The government's privatisation programme could ease the country's debt burden, the report said.

Simitis hosts Jospin on Aegean holiday

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his French counterpart Lionel Jospin met on a strictly private basis yesterday on the Aegean island of Siphnos.

Mr. Simitis flew early yesterday morning to the island of Antiparos on a military helicopter to meet Mr. Jospin, his wife and their three children and escort them to Siphnos where he is holidaying himself.

The two prime ministers and their wives took a short walk around the Apollonia neighbourhood of the town, sipped Greek coffee at a local establishment, and later cruised around the island on a yacht. In the afternoon they visited the Governor of the National Bank of Greece Theodoros Karatzas at his home in the medieval settlement of Kastro in Siphnos.

Mr. Jospin told the few reporters present that "politics is absent from our company today, but will be present on August 31 at a very interesting event that my friend Costas and I are organising together (in Athens) on the Left and its perspectives".

Focus on Orthodox Church finances

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos yesterday requested of Metropolitan of Karistias Serapheim to specify charges against persons accused of involvment in financial misdeeds.

He added that the Church's leadership will meet in October to decide on specific issues regarding the investigation of Church finances during the 1994-96 period.

Meanwhile, a member of the Church's financial council resigned over a dispute related to charges levelled against lay persons for development of real estate in Vouliagmeni.

Also, Metropolitan Maximos of Serres said that the Church's leadership in charge of finances has increased responsibilities which border criminal negligence.

Signal flares discovered in Cretan forest

Three signal flares were discovered in a forest at the Aghia Irini, Irakleio site on Monday, as authorities believe the flares were part of a failed attempt by arsonists to torch the forest.

Local residents discovered the German-made flares, which are not available at stores, while a fourth was found yesterday in the area during a site inspection conducted by fire brigade officials from Irakleio. Investigators are also looking for fingerprints possibly left on the flares.

Flares and gas cannisters were also found in a number of areas ravaged by fires this summer, a fact leading authorities to suspect arsonists, believed to be on the payroll of land grabbers and squatters.

Meanwhile, rewards ranging from five to 20 million drachmas are offered for information regarding forest fires throughout the country since July 1. Anyone providing information leading to the arrest of arsonists will be allowed to retain their anonymity , officials stated.

On the fire front, a blaze that broke out yesterday afternoon at the Drafi site on Mount Penteli is under control, while two fronts are still burning at Ermioni in Argolida, and Leondari in Megalopoli, both in Peloponnese.

Smoking ban at archaeological sites

The culture ministry issued a circular yesterday banning smoking in the country's archaeological sites and museums. The decision comes after repeated complaints by archaeologists and museum staff that some visitors extinguish their cigarettes on monuments .

Italian investment for Drama

Drama officials yesterday announced that the prefectural administration has allocated one hectare of land in the Xiropotamos industrial zone to a group of Italian investors for a new two-billion-drachma high-pressure boiler manufacturing plant.

Drowning, windsurfing accident

An elderly Swedish tourist drowned yesterday while swimming off the coast at Nea Hora, Crete, while an Italian national was seriously injured on Monday afternoon while windsurfing off Lagouna on Naxos.

The Swedish man was identified as Erik Lennart Jansson, 69. Hania port authorities are conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the drowning.

On Naxos, meanwhile, Bruno Vinchesi, 43, was injured when another windsurfer lost control of his board and crashed into the victim, who was also windsurfing in the same area.

Mr. Vinchesi was initially taken to the Naxos Health Centre before being flown to Athens and admitted to the Voula hospital. Physicians said his left kidney had been damaged and his spleen may have been ruptured in the accident.

Minion department store to reopen

A settlement reached by the central Athens Minion department store and its creditors as well as a settlement of debts with the Public Power Corp. (DEH) will apparently keep the longtime business in operation.

Minion will reopen its doors to the public today.

Abolition of 15% tax on repos planned

The finance ministry is pushing through an amendment abolishing the 15 per cent tax on income accruing from agreements for the repossession or resale of state securities (repos), it was announced Monday.

The measure is interpreted as a move to revatilise the market for bonds and T-bills which has been flagging in recent years, chiefly due to the high level of interbank rates in recent years, compared to those of state securities, and possibly due to the tax imposed on them in mid-1994.

Greek stocks dive in the wake of turmoil in world markets

Greek equities ended sharply lower in scant trade on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday hit by renewed turbulence in international markets.

The general index ended 3.09 percent lower at 2,611.30 points, and turnover totalled 37.5 billion drachmas.

Sector indices suffered losses. Banks dropped 3.01 percent, Leasing fell 2.18 percent, Insurance eased 2.07 percent, Investment ended 2.24 percent off, Industrials dropped 3.21 percent, Construction ended 2.58 percent off, Holding dropped 3.63 percent an d Miscellaneous ended 3.27 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.85 percent off, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 3.13 percent to 1,587.36 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 213 to 38 with another 9 issues unchanged.

Dorian Bank soared 98.33 percent on its maiden appearance in the market. The bourse's volatility rules do not apply to new listings.

Klaoudatos, Minerva, Elfico, Seafarm Ionian, Tasoglou and Boutaris scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

Bank of Central Greece, Nematemboriki, Development Invest, Hellenic Mills, Terna, Metrolife, Hellenic Cables suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 50,200 drachmas, Ergobank at 30,395, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,500, Ionian Bank at 16,810, Delta Dairy at 3,760, Hellenic Telecoms at 7,775, Intracom at 12,555, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,730 and Titan Cement at 21,700.

WEATHER

Sunny weather will prevail throughout the country today with clouds appearing in mainland Greece in the afternoon. Winds will be northerly, northeasterly, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Temperatures in Athens will range between 24-34C, while in Thessaloniki from 22-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.811 British pound 479.315 Japanese yen (100) 199.332 French franc 49.023 German mark 164.295 Italian lira (100) 16.661 Irish Punt 413.466 Belgian franc 7.970 Finnish mark 54.064 Dutch guilder 145.730 Danish kr. 43.106 Austrian sch. 23.311 Spanish peseta 1.936 Swedish kr. 35.980 Norwegian kr. 38.390 Swiss franc 196.446 Port. Escudo 1.605 Aus. dollar 174.374 Can. dollar 192.746 Cyprus pound 558.754

(L.G.)


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