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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-11-03

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, 03/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Cabinet approves 2000 budget
  • Govt unveils last budget in drachmas
  • Budget targets
  • Budget 'guarantees Greece's future'
  • Ferry fire death toll rises to 11
  • Merchant marine minister comments on fire
  • Large-scale security operation for Clinton visit
  • Peace and investment focus of Clinton-Simitis talks
  • 3.9 quake registered in Athens area
  • Defence minister to visit UAE
  • Govt unconcerned by ex-king's court battle
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Cabinet approves 2000 budget

The Greek cabinet today approved next year's budget, the last before the country's participation in European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The budget for the year 2000 includes the basis of next year's budget which will put the country in line with the stability pact for member states in the euro zone. National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will submit the budget to parliament later in the day.

Govt unveils last budget in drachmas

"We create wealth and we redistribute it," Prime Minister Costas Simitis said today after a cabinet meeting which approved next year's budget. The Prime Minister noted that the budget was the last to be drafted in drachmas - the next budget will be drafted in euros - saying that a new era was starting for Greece. "The budget", Simitis said, "represents the successful course of the economy" and underlined that the government would remain steadfast on the same course. The budget aimed at supporting a society of fraternity and justice, he said.

Budget targets

The budget forecasts a 5.8 percent rise in revenues, a further cut in government deficits, tax cuts worth 470 billion drachmas and a 7.4 percent increase in public spending. The budget's main features include: tax cuts and measures to support lower incomes, worth 470 billion drachmas, including higher tax-free income ceilings; revenues are expected to rise by 5.8 percent with tax revenues up an estimated 5.3 percent due to a more efficient electronic monitoring of tax and customs data; the central government's deficit is forecast to fall to 3.1 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), from 3.6 percent in 1999 and 4.4 percent in 1998; and defence and social welfare spending growth is expected to exceed a projected rise in the inflation rate (2.0 percent).

Budget 'guarantees Greece's future'

The government has submitted a budget of steady development and prosperity, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Wednesday. He said that all economic magnitudes had shown a steady improvement and that this budget, announced on Wednesday, prepared Greece's path for inclusion in economic and monetary union. "What is apparent now is how right the government's economic policy was and how unjust and unrealistic (opposition) New Democracy's criticism was," he said. "We can guarantee the future," Reppas said.

Ferry fire death toll rises to 11

The death toll from a fire that broke out on board a Greek ferry ship on its way from Greece to Italy rose to 11 after port authorities found the body of another stowaway in the vessel's parking level. A Patras harbour police spokesman told ANA that the search for more possible victims continued in the five-level garage The latest victim was a man. His body was found in the cabin of a truck, "where he apparently sought refuge after the fire broke out on another truck carrying paper pulp", the spokesman said. Among the 11 stowaways, all believed to be illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin, were two women. They all boarded the 11,246-ton Greek-owned Superfast III ferry clandestinely to make it to Italy.

Merchant marine minister comments on fire

Two of three Kurds questioned in relation with a tragic ferry fire were carrying Greek passports, most likely fake, but Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis dismissed reports of collusion between port services and illegal immigrant smugglers. The three Kurds were brought in for questioning in relation to the ferry boat fire late on Monday that resulted in the death of 11 of their compatriots, all stowaways on the boat. Soumakis, speaking to reporters at a news conference on Wednesday, praised port officials for their prompt response to the emergency, but said the death of the 11 Kurds had been a shocking development.

Large-scale security operation for Clinton visit

More than 8000 Greek police will be brought in to ensure draconian security surrounds U.S. President Bill Clinton when he arrives in Greece for his two- day visit on November 13. According to sources at the public order ministry, the operation to ensure the security of the movements of the U.S. president is one of the largest in recent years. Police are already on watch at areas the U.S. president is expected to visit during his stay and this surveillance will continue until after his departure. The measures will be tightened up a few days before his arrival.

Peace and investment focus of Clinton-Simitis talks

Advancing peace and stability, together with boosting private investments in the Balkans, will be among the top issues on the agenda of talks between US president Bill Clinton and Greek premier Costas Simitis during Clinton's upcoming state visit to Athens, US ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns said today in Thessaloniki. Clinton will visit Greece from November 13 to 15. He will also be making an official visit to Turkey Nov. 15-17 ahead of an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul on Nov. 17-19, before going on to Italy and Bulgaria Nov. 20-21 and 21-23 respectively.

3.9 quake registered in Athens area

A minor earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale was recorded in Athens early today. The tremor was recorded at 5:32 a.m., with its epicentre 20 kilometres northweast of Athens, coming from the same fault near Mt. Parnitha that produced the devastating 5.9 richter earthquake in Athens on September 7.

Defence minister to visit UAE

Greece's national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos begins an official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on November 16 for talks with the government aimed at advancing bilateral defence cooperation, it was announced today. The date of the visit was finalised during foreign undersecretary Grigoris Niotis' visit to Dubai, where he represented Greece yesterday at a one-day joint meeting of European Union (EU) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers. On the sidelines of the meeting, Niotis held talks with the UAE defence minister and foreign undersecretary.

Govt unconcerned by ex-king's court battle

Press reports on Wednesday that Greece's former king, Constantine Glucksburg, had passed the first hurdle in claiming compensation from the Greek state for the seizure of royal properties found most Greek government officials unmoved. Athens daily Ethnos reported that Glucksburg planned to demand 615 billion drachmas following the approval of his application for compensation to be heard at the Court of Human Rights. "The Greek government will do battle at the Court of Human Rights," Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos said simply. Asked to comment by reporters, Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou said she didn't think the budget - tabled in Parliament on Wednesday - had taken into account of the amount demanded by the former king.

WEATHER

Scattered showers in most parts of the country with sunny spells in western and northern Greece. Possibility of storms in the Aegean Sea. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Possibility of showers in Athens with temperatures between 13-21C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          310.546
Pound sterling       511.316
Japanese yen (100)   296.231
French franc          49.762
German mark          166.895
Italian lira (100)    16.858
Irish Punt           414.465
Belgian franc          8.092
Finnish mark          54.899
Dutch guilder        148.121
Danish kr.            43.914
Austrian sch.         23.722
Spanish peseta         1.962
Swedish kr.           37.662
Norwegian kr.         39.462
Swiss franc          203.578
Port. Escudo           1.628
Can. dollar          211.336
Aus. dollar          199.164
Cyprus pound         565.797
Euro                 326.418
(M.P.)
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