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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-12-30

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, 30/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek economy to power ahead from 2000
  • Stocks rise again, retaking 5,300 points
  • Greece to auction first 20-year bond Jan 11
  • ND questions gov't figures
  • Water board IPO eight times oversubscribed
  • Futures rise in derivatives market
  • Cypriot firm buys 70 pct of Royal Olympic Cruises
  • Papandreou, Cem to address Greek and Turkish journalists
  • Awards by Stephanopoulos to distinguished citizens
  • Simitis lauds contributions of EMAK unit
  • Athens FIR, nat'l airspace not negotiable with Turkey
  • To ANA's "Bulletin" and Special English Service subscribers:
  • SPECIAL OFFER
  • Charges filed against Central Archaeological Council
  • Gov't concerned over probe results detailing police corruption
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek economy to power ahead from 2000

Greece's economic indicators will show further improvement in the next three years, beginning in 2000, said a national economy ministry bulletin released yesterday.

One of the main forecasts is that gross fixed-capital investments are to rise to 1.571 trillion drachmas in 2000, from 1.469 trillion drachmas this year and 1.255 trillion drachmas in 1998, the six-monthly bulletin said.

Growth in gross fixed-capital investments is expected to accelerate further in the following two years to 1.705 trillion drachmas in 2001 and 1.867 trillion drachmas in 2002. International organisations agree that Greece's economic outlook remains positive.

The European Union has forecast that the country's economic growth will reach 3.7 percent in 2000 and 4.1 percent in 2001 from 3.3 percent this year.

Inflation is forecast at 2.2 percent in the next two years from 2.4 percent in 1999, the general government deficit is expected to fall to 1.6 pct of GDP in 2000 and to 1.2 pct in 2001 from 1.9 pct this year, while the general government debt is forecast to fall to 103 pct and 100.3 pct of GDP in the next two years, down from 104.5 pct in 1999.

The country's current account deficit is expected to rise to 1.9 pct of GDP in 2000 and to 2.1 pct in 2001, up from 1.6 pct this year.

Stocks rise again, retaking 5,300 points

Stocks moved higher for the third consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the market above the 5,300 level.

Dealers said trade had improved and that buying activity again focused on smaller capitalisation and telecommunications stocks.

The general index ended 2.46 percent higher at 5,359.11 points with turnover at 283.48 billion drachmas.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+0.96 pct), Leasing (+4.90 pct), Insurance (+2.93 pct), Investments (+3.26 pct), Construction (+6.73 pct), Industrials (+3.20 pct), Miscellaneous (+2.24 pct) and Holding (+1.71 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 5.83 percent higher at 1,470.30 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 23,400 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 25, 500, Commercial Bank at 25,200, Titan Cement (common) at 18,550, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,180, Intracom at 14,800, Minoan Lines at 8,650, Panafon at 4, 195 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,500.

Greece to auction first 20-year bond Jan 11

Greece will auction its first 20-year bond, paying an annual coupon of 6.0 percent, on January 11, 2000.

Three days later, on January 14, a 10-year bond future will start trading on the Athens Derivatives Exchange, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday.

Mr. Christodoulakis said that state borrowing would be significantly reduced next year to 8.5 trillion drachmas, or 21.0 percent of the country's GDP, down from 26.0 percent in 1999.

He said the ministry would focus on domestic borrowing next year, issuing more securities in order to avoid foreign currency risks.

Mr. Christodoulakis said that the public debt fell to 104.1 pct of GDP in 1999 despite a sharp appreciation of the yen in international currency markets, a development that burdened the country's foreign exchange debt with an additional 150 billion drachmas.

He attributed the reduced debt to cutbacks in state borrowing, falling interest rates, subsidy cuts to state enterprises, higher economic growth and a massive repurchase of older bonds.

ND questions gov't figures

The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party yesterday accused the government of using creative accounting in order to show that Greece was in line with fiscal criteria for euro zone entry.

George Alogoskoufis, who heads ND's economy section, said that the government had used the proceeds of privatisation and other revenue to show what he called an artificial reduction of the public debt at the end of 1999.

Mr. Alogoskoufis added that such practices would bring the country economic problems after entry into the euro zone, which the government wants to achieve on January 1, 2001.

Water board IPO eight times oversubscribed

An initial public offering by the Athens Water Supply and Drainage Company (EYDAP) to raise 78 billion drachmas and enter the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange was eight times oversubscribed.

EYDAP issued a total of 6.5 million new shares with 1.5 million of the total allocated to a private placement with staff at 2,000 drachmas each.

Also offered were another 25 million shares at 2,500 drachmas each, bringing the share total for sale to 31.5 million shares.

Among buyers of EYDAP's stock were the holders of convertible bonds, which can be exchanged for stock in companies floated as part of the government's privatisation drive.

Futures rise in derivatives market

The price of futures rose on the Athens Derivatives Exchange yesterday following a recovery in the FTSE/ASE 20 index for the third consecutive session. Contracts are based on the index.

A total of 769 contracts were traded, worth 4.4 billion drachmas. The January 2000 contract closed at 2,835.91 points, the February 2000 contract at 2,931,22, the March contract at 2,950 and the June contract at 3,020 points. The September and December contract settlement prices were set at 3, 056.38 and 3,113.50 points respectively.

Cypriot firm buys 70 pct of Royal Olympic Cruises

Louis Cruise Lines Limited, which is listed on the Cypriot bourse, yesterday completed a 70 percent acquisition of Royal Olympic Cruise Holdings Inc., which owns 51.42 percent of Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc.

Payment was effected partly in the form of Louis shares.

Papandreou, Cem to address Greek and Turkish journalists

The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, George Papandreou and Ismail Cem, respectively, will open a Greek-Turkish conference of journalists and media executives, set for Feb. 5-6 in Athens.

The two ministers accepted a proposal by the conference's contact group to deliver the opening addresses at the event, an announcement noted yesterday.

It said that during the Turkish officials' stay in Athens, some of the bilateral accords on "low-impact" issues would be signed.

More than 40 personalities from the journalism, publishing and higher education sectors in Turkey will be attending the Athens conference, the announcement added.

Awards by Stephanopoulos to distinguished citizens

President Kostis Stephanopoulos decided to award honourary distinctions to a number of Greek citizens on the occasion of the New Year.

Honourees include Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos, university professor and Council of Europe's Human Rights Court VP Christos Rozakis, professor of philosophy and academic Evangelos Moutsopoulos, Oxford University professor Vassileios Markezinis, Frankfurt University professor and member of the European Union's Individual Data Protection Committee Spyros Simitis and artist Alekos Fasianos.

Likewise, he decided to award honourary distinctions to a number of foreign nationals.

Among them are Montpellier Mayor Georges Freche, for his activities in favour of Greece; Tory MP and resident of the Hellenic British Parliamentary group Dr. Ian David Twinn and Eurodeputy and philhellene Alfred Lomas.

Simitis lauds contributions of EMAK unit

1999 has been an outstanding year for emergency search and rescue services EMAK, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday.

"1999 has been EMAK's year," Mr. Simitis said, referring to the emergency unit's contribution to rescue efforts during the quakes in Turkey and Greece.

Mr. Simitis was speaking during an EMAK demonstration put on for his visit to the squad's headquarters.

The prime minister, accompanied by Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoides and ministry secretary-general Dimitris Efstathiades, was briefed on new equipment acquired by EMAK, such as three new sniffer dogs, trained in France.

Athens FIR, nat'l airspace not negotiable with Turkey

Turkey is obliged to respect international legality and submit flight plans for its planes when they enter the Athens FIR, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

He made the statement in Thessaloniki in response to questions over recent infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens FIR and violations of Greek national airspace in the eastern Aegean.

"Greece must remain firm on the non-negotiability of its positions, so that the other side understands that Turkey has the obligation of adjusting to the new realities if it wishes to pursue the prospect of European Union membership," he said, addingt hat Greece will not negotiate any rights regarding national airspace.

Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said the continuing Turkish provocations in the Aegean are a particularly negative contribution to the conditions for the two peoples' peaceful co-existence and bilateral coo peration. "They show a persistence, with a practice dangerous for peace, which establishes Turkey in the role of international troublemaker, and reveals its intention to disregard both international law and international treaties that jointly formul ate the status quo in the area," he said.

To ANA's "Bulletin" and Special English Service subscribers:

As of today, and for five weeks (until the end of January 2000), you will be able to access the on-line English Service on a trial basis at http://ns.ana.gr with the following universal access code - username: bull password: bull47 At the end of the trial period, please inform the ANA's marketing department if you wish to continue to receive the on-line English Service alone, the "Bulletin" alone (in its electronic form), or both, so that you may be issued a personal access code, as the universal access code will be abolished.

We would also like to remind you of the special offer the ANA is offering to those subscribers who wish to receive both services.

SPECIAL OFFER

ANA's bulletin subscribers will be able to receive, as of Jan. 2: a) the Special English Service of news items on-line and as the news is breaking 500,000 drachmas annually and, b) the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability for print-out if desired 110,000 drachmas annually. ANA is offering a special package discount subscription of 500,000 drachmas for both services.

For further information, please call the marketing department between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 6400560.

Charges filed against Central Archaeological Council

An Athens first instance court prosecutor yesterday filed charges for breach of duty against the culture ministry's Central Archaeological Council.

The charges arise from an investigation into claims that the influential council had ignored a 1997 ministerial decision classifying 27.8 hectars of land as an archaeological site while, in 1998, it approved a construction firm's request to begin building on the site.

The investigation was prompted by a report in the "Eleftherotypia" daily which began last summer.

Gov't concerned over probe results detailing police corruption

The public order ministry yesterday said it had been taken aback over results of an internal affairs investigation into corruption within the Greek police force, stressing that it was determined to apply the law in each case.

"The extent of corruption and the number of police involved were more than we expected," ministry secretary-general Dimitris Efstathiades said.

"But the law will be applied without any exceptions. It is a shame for other police officers to be stigmatized by these cases," he added.

The Greek Police's (EL.AS) new internal affairs division announced on Tuesday it had uncovered at least 14 instances of police officers involved in serious breach of duty. It has forwarded a preliminary report to an Athens prosecutor.

A range of charges have been filed against 14 policemen, which includes seven officers. The charges include breach of duty, blackmail, perjury, bribery and tampering with official documents. Ten of the people charged face felony charges.

Calling the corruption cases "abscesses which will be rooted out", Mr. Efstathiades said that the bureau's work would continue unhindered.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Thursday with rain in the west, spreading to the centre and north overnight. Winds southwesterly, moderate, turning northerly in the north later. Cloudy in Athens with temperatures from 9-16C. Same in Thessaloniki, turning to rain later in the day and temperatures from 2-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          324.880
Pound sterling       526.315
Japanese yen (100)   317.857
French franc          49.940
German mark          167.493
Italian lira (100)    16.919
Irish Punt           415.952
Belgian franc          8.121
Finnish mark          55.097
Dutch guilder        148.653
Danish kr.            44.045
Austrian sch.         23.807
Spanish peseta         1.969
Swedish kr.           38.293
Norwegian kr.         40.722
Swiss franc          203.925
Port. Escudo           1.634
Can. dollar          223.200
Aus. dollar          210.304
Cyprus pound         567.424
Euro                 327.588
(C.E.)
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