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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-10-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 30/10/1998 (ANA)


  • New ministers sworn in
  • Simitis sets out priorities for new Cabinet
  • George Papandreou in Tirana
  • 2 million packets of contraband cigarettes seized
  • Drugs, weapons arrests
  • Bomb hoax at Roussel trial
  • Drys: no new taxes
  • Greek equities rally on rate cut
  • Pension bill to be submitted to parliament
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


New ministers sworn in

Seven new ministers and deputy ministers were sworn in Friday after prime minister Costas Simitis announced a minor cabinet reshuffle last night and sought a parliamentary vote of confidence. The swearing-in ceremony before President Costis Stephanoplous and the premier was followed by the first meeting of the Cabinet in its new composition.

Simitis sets out priorities for new Cabinet

Addressing the cabinet, Simitis spoke of three major targets which the government would be striving to attain during the coming period. The first, he said, was to maintain and increase the pace of the upward and developmental course of the Greek economy, the ultimate objective being the country's entry to EMU. The second target, Simitis said, was to strengthen Greece's role on the international scene. Simitis said the third target was to improve the quality of life and deal with citizens' daily problems, particularly unemployment, crime and issues related to the country's health services.

George Papandreou in Tirana

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou left today for Albania to attend an international conference on the Albanian issue. The conference is being attended by foreign ministry officials, including ministers, from 36 countries and by a number of international organisations. Papandreou is expected to meet with the Albanian prime minister and members of opposition parties during his trip to Tirana for the conference. He has also met with Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, and told reporters after the meeting that the Orthodox Church and Anastasios had done great work for the country.

2 million packets of contraband cigarettes seized

The finance ministry's financial crimes squad (SDOE) seized four containers of contraband cigarettes at the main Greek port of Piraues on Friday, in the largest single haul of smuggled cigraettes ever in Greece. A statement said the four containers held some two million packets of Super King and Regal cigarettes. Some 14 million packets of contraband cigarettes have been confiscated since the beginning of the year in Attica alone. The income to the state in lost duties payable on the cigarettes is thought to run in the hundreds of millions of drachmas.

Drugs, weapons arrests

A Greek man and an Albanian couple were due to appear before a public prosecutor in Athens after being found in possession of narcotics and a small double-barrelled pistol which looks like a key-ring but is capable of firing real bullets. Police motorcyclists stopped the three who were travelling in a car near the centre of Athens late last night. Apart from the harmless-looking pistol, which was found on Kitsas, the police also confiscated 5.5 grams of cocaine. The three refused to tell police where they had obtained the weapons and narcotics.

Bomb hoax at Roussel trial

An Athens court hearing of perjury and slander charges filed against Thierry Roussel, the father of 14-year-old Athina - heir to the vast fortune of late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis - was disrupted on Friday following an anonymous bomb threat. Police cleared the courtroom to investigate the claim by an anonymous caller but said later the call had been a hoax. Roussel is in Athens to stand trial on the charges, arising from a complaint filed by Roussel two years ago accusing the Onassis Foundation board of mismanagement. The trial is continuing.

Drys: no new taxes

The government is not planning any new taxes in 1999, Finance Undersecretary George Drys told an Economist seminar on tax harmonisation held in Athens. "The 1999 budget does not include any new taxes, nor a rise in existing taxes, that's why it is not accompanied by a tax draft bill," Drys said. He underlined that next year's budget was the most important in recent years because it would lead the country into the European economic and monetary union (EMU). Drys said that 1999's regular budget revenues will rise by 6 percent compared with this year's budget to 10 trillion drachmas. He said this target could be achieved through successfully containing the informal market and tax evasion with no need of intervening on the existing tax system.

Greek equities rally on rate cut

A surprise decision by Alpha Credit Bank to lower its interest rates sparked a rally in share prices in the last half-hour of trading on the Athens Stock Exchange. Greek equities ended sharply higher helped also by the new government's determination to follow the same economic policy. The general index ended 2.75 percent higher to 2,162.93 points, in heavy turnover of 48.2 billion drachmas. Sector indices scored gains. Banks soared 4.07 percent, Insurance rose 1.93 percent, Investment ended 1.16 percent higher, Leasing increased 2.82 percent, Industrials rose 2.25 percent, Construction edged 0.34 percent up, Miscellaneous was 1.04 percent higher and Holding rose 1.38 percent. The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.08 percent off.

Pension bill to be submitted to parliament

The government's bill on reforming the state pension system, due to be submitted to Parliament next week, will be delayed a week, Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said on Friday. Papaioannou was speaking during the handing-over ceremony between outgoing deputy minister Nikos Farmakos and incoming deputy minister Fivos Ioannidis. The bill, the so-called mini-package of measures to reform the state pension sector, was due to be released to the public on Wednesday or Thursday. However, the confidence vote scheduled to begin Sunday and end on Tuesday has put back planning, the minister said. The bill will probably be submitted to Parliament the week after.


Fair weather will prevail througout Greece today with scattered cloud in the west and north. Possibility of rain in the northern Ionian Sea, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 10- 24C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9- 19C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.169 British pound 469.514 Japanese yen (100) 239.270 French franc 50.652 German mark 169.667 Italian lira (100) 17.154 Irish Punt 422.294 Belgian franc 8.227 Finnish mark 55.790 Dutch guilder 150.486 Danish kr. 44.630 Austrian sch. 24.116 Spanish peseta 1.997 Swedish kr. 35.950 Norwegian kr. 37.884 Swiss franc 208.632 Port. Escudo 1.655 Aus. dollar 173.203 Can. dollar 181.238 Cyprus pound 572.880


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