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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-06

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, 06/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Fuel back on market after customs strike ends
  • Prinos oilfield may close in dispute
  • PAOK fans protest
  • Probe into failed Duty Free Shops tender
  • Domestic interest rates seen falling
  • Culture ministry acquires rare book on Alexander the Great
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Fuel back on market after customs strike ends

Fuel became available again in petrol stations around the country and border checks resumed, as customs employees returned to work on the weekend after a five day strike which caused severe fuel shortages and long queues at border crossings.

The customs officers were forced back to work after the government on Friday enacted special labour law provisions banning industrial action by state employees during national emergencies.

The decision was announced by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, saying the government had exhausted all margins of dialogue. Customs officers were protesting against a plan to merge their financially robust pension fund with other, weaker funds.

Papantoniou said last week's rolling 24-hour strikes had considerably damaged the national economy and that the government had taken into consideration all parameters before enacting "civil mobilisation" provisions.

The enactement is effectively an order to striking public servants to return to work or face dismissal.

Prinos oilfield may close in dispute

The government has made a last-ditch attempt to save the Prinos oilfield from closure by offering to subsidise early retirement for workers of North Aegean Petroleum Corp. (NAPC) who refuse to accept redundancies in a cost- cutting plan.

Citing financial woes, NAPC has said it will close its installations located off the northern island of Thassos and near the town of Kavala if workers persist in rejecting the plan to lower operating costs by 30 percent.

NAPC's latest deadline for closure is Monday after attempts by the labour ministry to mediate between management and workers.

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said on Friday afternoon that the government was willing to contribute 700 million drachmas to help fund voluntary retirement for around 70 workers.

Any staff who opted for retirement would be eligible for three-year labour ministry retraining schemes, also receiving a monthly payment of 150,000 drachmas and social insurance stamps until normal retirement age.

Staff unwilling to accept voluntary retirement would be offered 2.5 million drachmas in order to start their own business.

Putting the government proposals to NAPC's management and union was Deputy Labour Minister Christos Protopapas, who held talks with both sides in Athens on Friday.

Workers are due to meet in Kavala on Monday to debate the ministry's proposals.

The government has asked NAPC, which has 400 staff, to refrain from action until Thursday to allow time for discussion of the offer.

PAOK fans protest

PAOK Thessaloniki first division soccer club fans demonstrated for a second day outside Filmnet subscriber television channel offices in the northern Greek capital, after the club was fined 30 million dr. for obstrucking the station from setting up cameras for a recent match. Some 200 protestors chanted slogans and broke film decoders.

Probe into failed Duty Free Shops tender

An Athens prosecutor has ordered a preliminary enquiry following press reports and a question tabled in Parliament on the abortive sale of state- run Duty Free Shops (KAE) to the French-Greek joint venture Saresco- Papaellinas-Sarantis.

The Parliament question was tabled by Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who also spoke of a "scandal" and accused the government of violating the terms of KAE's international tender, including "stock exchange machinations" to the detriment of the state, small investors and KAE.

Domestic interest rates seen falling

A drop in November's inflation to 4.2 percent combined with a move to cut interest rates by EU euro-zone countries are expected to help bring down domestic rates, analysts said.

Traders are watching for the central bank's weekly intervention in the money market on Wednesday, hoping for a signal that rates will decline.

The central bank is expected to lower its intervention rate to 12.50 percent from 12.75 percent, although a greater cut is possible.

Underlying inflation, the rate on which the Bank of Greece bases its calculations, slipped in November by 0.2 percent to 5.3 percent.

Culture ministry acquires rare book on Alexander the Great

The culture ministry has acquired a rare book on Alexander the Great at an auction in Athens.

The ministry bought a first or second edition of Curtius Rufus' (Quintus) "Historia Alexandri Magni", publishe din Rome in 1471, for 8.8 million dr.

To date, there was no copy of Curtius' 150-page Historia Alexandri Magni -- one of the most popular historical documents on Alexander the Great during the Renaissance -- in Greek libraries, nor any other early Curtius publication.

The Historia was written in the 1st century AD in ten tomes, the first two of which have been completely lost, as have sections from the remaining tomes.

The document was compiled for the Lauer publications with the assistance of humanist Ppomponius Laetus (1428-1498), founder of the Academy of Rome. The Lauer publication was completed before January 1472, and a copy can be found in the national library of Paris.

The previous owner of the Historia had bought it at a Christie's auction in London in 1994.

WEATHER

Western, central and northern Greece and the islands of the eastern Aegean can expect cloud and sporadic storms on Monday while the rest of the country will be mostly overcast. Moderate southerly, southwesterly winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Athens will be overcast with chance of rain at night and temperatures ranging from 11C to 14C. Thessaloniki will also be cloudy, with chance of rain or snow in the nearby mountains at night and temperatures between 6C and 10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.407 British pound 465.486 Japanese yen (100) 235.154 French franc 49.767 German mark 166.859 Italian lira (100) 16.859 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 8.091 Finnish mark 54.895 Dutch guilder 148.071 Danish kr. 43.894 Austrian sch. 23.719 Spanish peseta 1.961 Swedish kr. 34.849 Norwegian kr. 37.654 Swiss franc 204.183 Port. Escudo 1.622 Aus. dollar 173.292 Can. dollar 181.496 Cyprus pound 561.968

(L.G.)


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