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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-12-15

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, 15/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Central bank cuts intervention rates
  • Greece awaits 3.8% GDP growth in 2000
  • Decision on drachma, EMU entry in June
  • Government pleased with poll results
  • Opposition urged to re-elect President
  • Highway robbery on tourist coach
  • Laliotis vows to sue paper over Metro report
  • Zahovic fined, suspended from Olympiakos
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Central bank cuts intervention rates

The Bank of Greece on Wednesday reduced its intervention rates by up to 0.75 percentage points, the second such reduction in just under two months, bringing the Greek short-term lending rates closer to the corresponding euro-zone rates. After a meeting of the Monetary Policy Council, the country's central bank announced a 0.75 percent reduction in its intervention rate -- the rate with which it intervenes each Wednesday to absorb liquidity on the inter-bank market for 14 days -- from the present 11.50 percent to 10.75. It slashed the primary overnight lending rate by 0.75 percentage points to 10.25 percent from 11 percent and the secondary rate by 0.25 percentage points from 9.25 percent to 9 percent.

Greece awaits 3.8% GDP growth in 2000

Greece sees its Gross Domestic Product increasing 3.8 percent in 2000 to reach an increase of 4.3 percent in 2002, according to the updated convergence programme submitted to the European Commission on Wednesday. The updated programme also sees the deficit falling from the present 1.2 percent of GDP to 0.2 percent in 2001, leading to a surplus of 0.2 percent in 2002, with a simultaneous decrease in the public debt and inflation. The programme covers the period 1999-2002 and was presented to reporters on Wednesday by National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papandoniou. The previous convergence programme 1994-1999 covered Greece's pre-convergence procedure in the third and final stage of economic and monetary union.

Decision on drachma, EMU entry in June

A decision on the drachma's central parity, as well as the final decision on whether Greece would be eligible to enter the euro-zone, was expected by June 2000 at the latest, National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papandoniou said. The minister said that there was a discussion under way with other EU member-states on a revaluation of the drachma but that no decision had been taken as yet. "Whether the parity remains as is changes for the better will be decided in the first half of 2000, with the deadline being June 2000, when the decision for Greece's inclusion in EMU is taken, " Papandoniou said.

Government pleased with poll results

The government on Wednesday welcomed the results of an opinion poll showing that the ruling socialists had pulled out ahead of the conservative opposition in voters' preferences but said that it would not be resting on its laurels. "The government is judged at elections and not by opinion polls. For this reason, with modesty and seriousness, it will continue its work to gain the full confidence of the Greek people," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. The MRB poll showed more people planning to cast votes for ruling party PASOK than for conservative New Democracy (ND) for the first time since PASOK's last electoral win, in 1996. Those intending on casting a ballot for PASOK numbered 31.6 percent, compared to 30.6 percent planning to vote for ND. Those still undecided were counted at 21.6 percent.

Opposition urged to re-elect President

The government on Wednesday urged the opposition to support a renewal of President Costis Stephanopoulos's term of office, saying that the incumbent president had shown himself worthy of the office. "This Parliament can and should re-elect President Costis Stephanopoulos to another five-year term because the country needs a worthy president," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. Reppas said Stephanopoulos expressed the unity of the Greek people and that he should be supported by the opposition, particularly New Democracy. Stephanopoulos' five-year term comes up for renewal in March; if Parliament fails to garner enough votes to re-elect him, there is a possibility that parliament will be dissolved and general elections held. The ruling party, PASOK, does not have enough seats in Parliament to re-elect Stephanopoulos outright and would need its numbers bolstered from the ranks of the opposition parties.

Highway robbery on tourist coach

Three unidentified persons, posing as policemen, stopped a Greek tourist coach from Thessaloniki outside Sofia, Bulgaria and robbed its 40 passengers, including several Greeks, eyewitnesses said Wednesday. The coach was headed for the Romanian capital Bucharest when the three armed robbers boarded the bus late Tuesday night, fired warning shots, and led the coach to an isolated spot where they stripped the passengers of money and jewelry and took the coach's keys before fleeing, one of the coach passengers told ANA. The driver and passengers managed to hotwire the coach and drove to a police station in Sofia, where they reported the incident. No one was hurt during the incident.

Laliotis vows to sue paper over Metro report

Environment, town planning and public works minister Costas Laliotis on Wednesday denied a newspaper report that he had become stuck in the Athens metro during a surprise inspection, and said the company overseeing the project, Attiko Metro S.A., would sue the newspaper and its director. Laliotis described as "wretched", "figments of a sick imagination" and a "diversionary tactic" a front-page article in Wednesday's afternoon daily "Eleftheros Typos" that Laliotis was stuck in the Metro for 45 minutes during a surprise inspection on Friday, when a system failure caused a blackout and the trains became immobilised. He said Attiko Metro S.A. would lodge a lawsuit against the newspaper and its director, George Kirtsos.

Zahovic fined, suspended from Olympiakos

The Greek Soccer Federation on Wednesday fined Olympiakos's international midfielder Zlatko Zahovic 30.5 million drachmas and suspended his contract for six months, after he criticised the Greek team. Olympiakos took Zahovic to the federation's economic disputes committee after the Slovenian midfielder said he was unhappy with his new team, and violated the rules of his leave. Oympiakos had asked for the suspension of his contract plus a 50 million drachma fine. Olympiakos Piraeus completed perhaps the most expensive transfer in the history of Greek soccer when it signed the 27- year old Slovenian attacking midfielder from Porto in July this year. The transfer is estimated to have cost the Greek club four billion drachmas. Zahovic was signed for three years, with an option for one more.

WEATHER

Overcast weather and scattered showers will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds southerly, strong to gale force. Partly cloudy in Athens with spells of sunshine and temperatures from 9-19C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki in the evening and temperatures from 5-13C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          325.475
Pound sterling       527.307
Japanese yen (100)   315.248
French franc          49.883
German mark          167.301
Italian lira (100)    16.899
Irish Punt           415.472
Belgian franc          8.111
Finnish mark          55.033
Dutch guilder        148.482
Danish kr.            43.995
Austrian sch.         23.779
Spanish peseta         1.966
Swedish kr.           38.166
Norwegian kr.         40.545
Swiss franc          204.342
Port. Escudo           1.632
Can. dollar          219.827
Aus. dollar          206.559
Cyprus pound         568.555
Euro                 327.211
(M.P.)
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