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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-01-02

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greeks give emotional welcome to euro currency
  • [02] Greece among countries adjusting rapidly to Euro transition
  • [03] Weather Forecast: Snow and rain on Thursday
  • [04] Greek stocks jump 1.38 pct in first session of 2002
  • [05] Premier visits bank branches on euro's first day on the street

  • [01] Greeks give emotional welcome to euro currency

    02/01/2002 20:51:52

    The first working day of the year began with no particular problems and with the euro currency changing hands in parallel with the drachma, creating feelings of excitement or mostly hesitation to citizens in the first day of its official circulation in the eurozone.

    The real test of the euro will be on Thursday, when the Greek market resumes normal operations (shops remained closed on Wednesday in an extended New Year's holiday).

    Initial problems in the euro circulation were focused: on the akward feeling of most Greeks by the appearance of the new currency; in large queues created in several banks and public services because of delays in otherwise ordinary cash transactions with the euro currency; and a relative lack of small value banknotes and euro coins.

    The situation is expected to improve on Thursday with the operation of supermarkets and department stores which are expected to supply consumers with the necessary euro coins and small value banknotes.

    Development ministry and the economic crime squad agency are expected to intensify their inspections in the market in an effort to combat any speculative moves and to protect consumers to unjustified price increases.

    Premier visits bank branches on euro's first day on the street

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday visited bank branches in Athens to see for himself the results of the government's efforts to move the Greek economy smoothly from the drachma to the euro.

    Simitis visited bank branches of National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Agricultural Bank and spoke with the employees and customers, getting a personal feel of how the average Greek feels about the new currency.

    "The currency transfer was smooth in the bank branches I visited, there are no special problems," Simitis said, adding that "the employees and the public should get use to it (euro) and this takes time, more so than transactions with drachmas."

    "I believe, however, that the people want a smooth, fast development and they are cooperating. The banks are ready and for this I believe that we will overcome whichever difficulties very soon," he said.

    "In any case, it is a great opportunity during which we will be able to organize our economy better and for this reason we have to work," he concluded.

    Euro changeover process satisfactory, Christodoulakis says

    Many things and policies will change after the introduction of the euro currency, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday and noted that the second day of circulation of the new currency was much more satisfactory compared with the first day.

    "The second day signals the start of a new era for a strong European economy. We must face new challenges and eurozone member-states should take advantage of benefits bringing the new currency," he said.

    Christodoulakis noted that these benefits were the result of lower cost products and lower money costs for businesses. "The big challenge, however, is to adjust to a new environment and to set the conditions that will lead us to real convergence," he said.

    "Our priority is to boost employment," Christodoulakis stressed. "If a significant part of our society does not participate in the production process there could be no real convergence."

    Christodoulakis acknowledged that there were some minor problems in adjusting with the euro currency and noted that most of them have already been solved.

    [02] Greece among countries adjusting rapidly to Euro transition

    02/01/2002 19:33:48

    The transition to the euro is developing smoothly and without any problems in the 12 eurozone countries, according to an announcement by the European Commission's Athens Office.

    The announcement said that, according to data collected through the European rapid information network, on average on January 1 over 80 percent of automatic teller machines (ATMs) have been adjusted to the euro, meaning about 160,000 machines.

    In four countries, (Austria, Germany, the Low Countries and Luxembourg) the machines' adjustment has almost been completed. In general, the machines' adjustment timetables have been observed, while the announcement adds that in certain countries the adjustment took place with speedier rates and Greece, France, Portugal and Finland are included among these countries.

    According to the Commission's recommendations, most ATMs are giving banknotes of low denominations in at least nine of the 12 eurozone countries.

    No serious problem of a material or technical nature has taken place and on January 1 no case of counterfeit euro banknotes had been reported.

    In almost all eurozone countries, shops which were open in general were giving change in euros and consumers were accepting change in euros without any problem. Queues at open shops were at normal levels.

    [03] Weather Forecast: Snow and rain on Thursday

    02/01/2002 17:25:36

    Cloudy throughout the country on Thursday, with rain and snow in the north later in the day. Winds northerly, moderate to gale force. In the north, temperatures will range from -10C to -1C; on the rest of the mainland from -6C to 5C; and in the islands from -1C to 7C. Rain and snow in Athens with temperatures between -1C to 5C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from -5C to -1C.

    [04] Greek stocks jump 1.38 pct in first session of 2002

    02/01/2002 16:47:27

    Equity prices soared pushing the general index 1.38 percent higher on the first trading session of 2002, reflecting strong buying interest for smaller capitalisation stocks.

    The index ended at 2,627.28 points, but turnover was a thin 28.6 billion drachmas, or 84 million euros, as many investors extended their New Year's holidays.

    The Textile, Publication and Construction sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (9.08 percent, 7.59 percent and 7.21 percent, respectively), with only the Retail sector suffering losses (off 0.84 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.64 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index jumped 2.96 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index soared 5.03 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 327 to 23 with another eight issues unchanged.

    [05] Premier visits bank branches on euro's first day on the street

    02/01/2002 16:19:14

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday visited bank branches in Athens to see for himself the results of the government's efforts to move the Greek economy smoothly from the drachma to the euro.

    Simitis visited bank branches of National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Agricultural Bank and spoke with the employees and customers, getting a personal feel of how the average Greek feels about the new currency.

    "The currency transfer was smooth in the bank branches I visited, there are no special problems," Simitis said, adding that "the employees and the public should get use to it (euro) and this takes time, more so than transactions with drachmas."

    "I believe, however, that the people want a smooth, fast development and they are cooperating. The banks are ready and for this I believe that we will overcome whichever difficulties very soon," he said.

    "In any case, it is a great opportunity during which we will be able to organize our economy better and for this reason we have to work," he concluded.


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