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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-08-22

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, 22/08/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Papantoniou pledges cutbacks in '98 state expenditures
  • Seismic activity in Greece until 2010, scientists say
  • US senators visit Thessaloniki, Athens next week
  • Minister calls for solution to eastern Attica garbage problem
  • State Dept. approval for Security Council briefing on Cyprus
  • Olympic idea to live on in education
  • Art, film festival to bring together Greek, Turkish artists
  • DEP share capital to increase
  • Low prices noted for grapes in European markets
  • Greek meat firm may open new Balkan exports base in Cyprus
  • Greek stocks end flat in slack trade
  • Greek youth volleyball team in world championships finals
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Papantoniou pledges cutbacks in '98 state expenditures

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that 1998 will be a year of "austerity for the state" and consolidation of the major tax reforms.

He made the statement after a meeting with Finance Undersecretaries George Drys and Nikos Christodoulakis, which focused on the government's 1998 economic policy.

Mr. Papantoniou also said the 1998 budget would be crucial, as it would determine the country's participation in the Economic and Monetary Union. He said the government's economic policy for 1998 would focus on state austerity and tax reforms, implying that the state will cut expenditures.

Replying to criticism that there are deviations in the 1997 budget, Mr. Papantoniou said there were no deviations, adding that state revenues were rising by 12.5 per cent. He said that by the end of the year he expected state revenues to rise by 14.5 per cent.

"1998 will be a year of recovery," Mr. Papantoniou said, forecasting a 4 per cent GDP rise as against a 3.5 per cent this year.

Economic issues will also be discussed today during a meeting of the ruling PASOK party's political secretariat, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Mr. Papantoniou, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos will participate.

Seismic activity in Greece until 2010, scientists say

Scientists attending an international seismology conference in Thessaloniki said yesterday that Greece had in 1996 entered a period of heightened seismic activity, which was expected to last until the year 2010.

During this period, they said, and on the basis of observations and statistical data processed by a research team of the Geophysics Laboratory of Thessaloniki University, there was a greater risk of strong earthquakes hitting Greece.

Speaking at the 29th World Seismology Conference, Thessaloniki University seismology professor Georgios Karakaisis said up to 27 earthquakes of more than six on the Richter scale could hit the region during the 15-year period.

The 10-day conference, which opened on Monday, is being attended by 1,000 seismology experts from all over the world.

The Thessaloniki University research team, using a long-term quake prediction method, said it had identified 25 areas posing a high risk from the point of view of seismic activity.

Prof. Vassilis Papazachos said the government had been urged to increase its anti-seismic protection measures, without this meaning that it was absolutely certain that very powerful earthquakes would occur.

He added that the method did not constitute a precise means of predicting earthquakes, since this was not yet scientifically feasible.

US senators visit Thessaloniki, Athens next week

Six US senators expected to visit Greece this coming week will make their first stop in Thessaloniki on Sunday to attend a dinner in their honour.

Senators Michael Bilirakis, Randy Cunningham, Ron Klink, John Laflace, Dan Schaefer and Michael Pappas were invited by the Greek-American Institute in the United States and the Panhellenic Organisation of Greek-American Friendship in Greece.

Their visit to the Cultural Capital of Europe will open with a meeting on Monday morning with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, to be followed by a tour of the city and the city's archaeological museum.

Later on Monday they will visit the Byzantine Museum, which is hosting the "Treasures of Mount Athos" exhibition and attend a dinner in their honour by the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

On Tuesday they are expected to visit the Porto Carras resort in Halkidiki prefecture.

They will visit Athens on Wednesday. Their schedule includes meetings with several ministers and political officials.

Minister calls for solution to eastern Attica garbage problem

The dispute over proposed sites for landfills in eastern Attica reached a pitch yesterday when Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Minister Costas Laliotis called on municipal authorities in the region to assume their responsibilities.

"It is simply inacceptable that twenty garbage dumps exist in eastern Attica, polluting the water table and threatening public health," he said, urging local authorities to "set a modern example" in dealing with the thousands of tonnes of garbage produc ed by their municipalities every day.

The minister, referring to the existing landfill in Liossia, western Attica, said that a 32-billion-drachma plan was under way to deal with two-thirds of Attica's refuse, including new landfill sites and recycling systems.

Former sites in Schisto and Ano Liossia, he said, were being converted into a 2.5 square kilometre park.

State Dept. approval for Security Council briefing on Cyprus

The US State Department has expressed approval of the UN Security Council briefing on the Cyprus issue by the Secretary General's special adviser Diego Cordovez on Wednesday, and of statements by the Council's British chairma n, John Weston, criticising the Turkish Cypriot side and commending President Glafcos Clerides for his stand during talks in Montreux, Switzerland, last week.

Spokesman James Rubin said Mr. Cordovez's briefing was accurate and that the State Department was in agreement with the Security Council chairman's statement.

He also said that progress on humanitarian issues was possible even when this was not the case on issues of substance, and that the US certainly hoped so.

Olympic idea to live on in education

Over 30 professors from 20 countries are attending the first world congress on "Introducing the Olympic and athletic education in schools", which opened in Patras yesterday and will end on Sunday.

Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras, who opened the congress, said that the Olympic idea was born in Greece and must continue to in Greece through the school system, through experimental programmes in cooperation with towns and communities.

The congress aims at proposing ways of introducing the ideals of the ancient Olympic Games in schools starting from elementary grade level.

Art, film festival to bring together Greek, Turkish artists

The first-ever Festival of Arts and Films is due to open in Turkey next Saturday with the aim of bringing together artists from Greece and Turkey.

The festival is organised by the group which is responsible for the administration of the Izmir Cinema Festival, and the Fine Arts Foundation for Education and Culture. The festival will take place in Cesme.

DEP share capital to increase

The government yesterday approved an increase by 20.9 billion drachmas in the share capital of the state-owned Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP).

Following this initial approval, a draft presidential decree on the increase was submitted to the Council of State for processing.

The increase calls for an issuing of 4,197 registered shares with a nominal value of five million drachmas each. They will be issued in 20 packages of 200, 1 of 100 and one of 97 shares.

The shares will all revert to the state, DEP's only shareholder.

Under these provisions, DEP's subsidiary for natural gas, DEPA, will also receive 20.9 billion drachmas from the public investment programe.

The increase will raise DEP's share capital to a total of 180.6 billion drachmas, or 36,128 shares of five million drachmas each.

Low prices noted for grapes on European markets

Low prices for the "Victoria" variety of grapes in European markets is causing concern to thousands of producers, exporters and government officials in Kavala.

Prices in Munich, the largest market abroad for Greek grapes, vary between 70 and 80 drachmas a kilo, a price 15-20 per cent lower than 1996, creating fears that a large part of this year's 30,000-tonne crop will remain unsold.

Producers' worries are compounded by an increase in transportation fees, which have been increased from 500,000 drachmas to 800,000 drachmas per load, resulting in an extra cost of 40 drachmas per kilo at a time when grapes are not subsidised by the EU.

Greek meat firm may open new Balkan exports base in Cyprus

Greece's Yfandis processed meat manufacturer is to decide in the near future whether to build a factory in Cyprus budgeted at 770 million drachmas that could be used as an exports base for the Balkans and Middle East, a company executive said.

Yfandis, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, has already completed surveys of the Cypriot market, which taken in isolation would be too small to warrant a costly investment, general director Christos Bartsokas told yesterday the Nicosia Philel eftheros daily newspaper.

But using the new plant as a base for Balkan and Middle Eastern exports would make the investment viable, Mr.Bartsokas said.

Greek stocks end flat in slack trade

Greek equities ended with minor changes after subdued trading on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

Market sources said investors were reluctant to open new positions ahead of the government's initial decisions over drafting next year's budget and further measures to contain 1997's larger-than-expected budget shortfall.

The general index closed 0.05 percent lower at 1,619.20 points despite a 2.78 percent gain in the construction sector.

Other sector indices moved in a narrow range. Banks fell 0.27 percent, Leasing rose 0.29 percent, Insurance eased 0.98 percent, Investment fell 0.33 percent, Industrials were 0.05 percent off, Holding rose 0.14 percent and Miscellaneous ended 1.08 perce nt higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.64 percent.

Trading remained thin and turnover was 7.8 billion drachmas.

Broadly, decliners narrowly led advancers by 103 to 91 with another 32 issues unchanged.

Pireaus Investment, Athinea, Demetriades and Balkan Export scored the biggest percentage gains, while Lambropoulos, Ippotour and Ideal suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 37,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,840, Alpha Credit Bank at 19,690, Delta Dairy at 4,250, Titan Cement at 14,910, Intracom at 12,975 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 510.

In the domestic foreign exchange market, the US dollar rose by 0.27 percent against the drachma.

Greek youth volleyball team in world championships finals

The Greek youth team in volleyball qualified for the final at the world championships in the Iranian capital after beating Poland yesterday in a game that lasted 2.5 hours.

"Anything may happen in the finals and we want to beat Italy at last," the team's coach, Nikos Neofytos, said. Greece plays against Italy today for first place.

WEATHER

Sunny weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today except some cloudiness and afternoon showers in the mainland, the Ionian and the northern Aegean Sea. Light to strong northerly winds in the south- eastern Aegean. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 20-31. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 17-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 288.493 Pound sterling 458.820 Cyprus pd 529.668 French franc 46.148 Swiss franc 189.452 German mark 155.397 Italian lira (100) 15.962 Yen (100) 244.657 Canadian dlr. 206.852 Australian dlr. 215.125 Irish Punt 416.918 Belgian franc 7.527 Finnish mark 52.130 Dutch guilder 138.047 Danish kr. 40.769 Swedish kr. 35.762 Norwegian kr. 37.339 Austrian sch. 22.096 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.532

(C.E.)


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