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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-10-16

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, 16/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't meeting prepares `99 budget
  • Athens objects to plans to release EU Turkey funds
  • Athens hosts meeting on Georgia-Abkhazia problem
  • One in four businesses evading payment of taxes
  • Greek equities surge on U.S. rate cut
  • Man charged with antiquities smuggling
  • Greece gets 24 bln for health programmes
  • Complaint filed over fugitive's death
  • Greek forces to participate in Cypriot exercise
  • Police arrest 60 Kurdish illegal immigrants
  • Four arrested in drugs haul
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't meeting prepares `99 budget

Prime Minister Costas Simitis, National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papandoniou and Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos met on Friday to examine the government's 1999 budget. "We will aim at bringing inflation to 2.0 percent by the end of 1999 with all the means at our disposal," Papandoniou told reporters after the meeting. Papandoniou said these means would include cuts in indirect taxes such as Value Added Tax charges, although he refused to be drawn on the extent of the cuts. Bringing down inflation continues to be the main focus of government economic policy. Greece hopes to have inflation down to 2.0 percent by the end of 1999 in time to make economic and monetary union criteria and join EMU by January 1, 2001.

Athens objects to plans to release EU Turkey funds

Any attempt to release European Union funds to Turkey "by a different path" would be legally groundless and politically unorthodox, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Friday. Reppas was replying to questions on reports that European Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek was considering releasing EU funds to Turkey, presently blocked by Greece, through some different channel. The spokesman warned that apart from the veto exercised by Greece on the release of funds allocated to Turkey under the 4th financial protocol, Athens could also have recourse to the European Court.

Athens hosts meeting on Georgia-Abkhazia problem

Following systematic preparations in total secrecy, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Friday opened a conference aimed at securing agreement on confidence-building measures (CBMs) between Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. Pangalos expressed the hope that the conference, which is being held in the seaside resort of Vouliagmeni near Athens under the aegis of the United Nations, would bring positive results at least regarding the adoption of measures which will facilitate communication between the two sides. Abkhaz separatists drove Georgian troops and 150,000 civilians from their territory after Georgian irregulars entered Abkhazia when the local parliament took steps towards attaining greater sovereignty.

One in four businesses evading payment of taxes

One in four Greek businesses audited by the finance ministry's economic crimes squad SDOE are involved in the national pastime of tax evasion, according to the SDOE's figures for September. SDOE said that of 12,545 audits on businesses and self-employed professionals, 3,680 were found to be evading payment of tax or duties. Self-employed professionals such as doctors, lawyers, civil enginneers, artists and public notaries had a 67.93 percent rate for infringements of the tax code. The SDOE's special task force investigating the tax records of high profile self-employed professionals found a 100 percent infringement rate. On companies with turnover of over two billion drachmas annually, the infringement rate was 41.9 percent. Businesses in tourist areas had an infringement rate of 40.54 percent.

Greek equities surge on U.S. rate cut

A surprise move by the Federal Reserve to ease short-term interest rates in the US brought euphoria to international markets and led the Athens Stock Exchange above the 2,000 level for the first time in 11 sessions. The general index surged 6.37 percent to end to 2,040.47 points in heavy turnover of 69.4 billion drachmas. Volume was 15,534,000 shares. Banks led the advance with a 7.92 percent rise followed by Leasing and Industrials, at 7.46 and 6.0 percent respectively. Insurance ended 3.96 percent up, Investments soared 6.51 percent, Miscellaneous ended 3.64 percent higher and Holding rose 4.76 percent. The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.37 percent higher, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index jumped 6.72 percent to 1,222.26.

Man charged with antiquities smuggling

Athens police today arrested a 50-year-old businessman after finding more than 1,000 ancient coins and a number of artefacts in his home. Members of the Attica Security Police's department of Antiquities Smuggling confiscated 1,178 bronze, gold and silver coins dating back to the early Hellenistic and Byzantine periods from the home of Efstratios Tarinas in the Nea Smyrni residential suburb. They also confiscated 46 bronze, lead, iron and ceramic artefacts dating to the Byzantine, Hellenistic and post-Roman eras. Tarinas told police he had inherited the antiquities from his father, who came from Istanbul and imported the coins and artefacts to Greece gradually over a number of years.

Greece gets 24 bln for health programmes

Greece and the European Investment Bank (EIB) today signed an agreement under which the EIB will allocate a 24 billion dr. loan to the health sector for the first time. The accord, signed by national economy undersecretary Christos Pachtas and EIB vice-chairman Panagiotis Gennimatas, will be used for supplementary financing of the EU Community Support Framework's (CSF) "Health-Welfare" programme. The funds will be used for the completion and immediate opening of 15 new hospital units in the Greek provinces, the development of informatics systems in the health-welfare sector, the modernisation and establishment of new, modern intensive care units, and supplementary actions in the field of urgent medical services.

Complaint filed over fugitive's death

The mother of a Greek-Romanian man at the centre of a hostage raid gone wrong on Friday filed a complaint with the Piraeus public prosecutor calling for the prosecution of all those involved in her son's death. Jenny Kapsokefalou is the mother of Sorin Matei, who died suddenly while in the Korydallos Prison hospital. Matei had been under sedation and heavy guard for two days after holding police at bay for hours and threatening to detonate a hand grenade in the central Athens apartment in which he was holding three hostages. On the day he died, he was scheduled to speak to a prosecutor assigned to an inquiry into the details of the raid, which left 12 people, including the head and deputy chief of Greek police, injured. The head of the Greek Police resigned and two other senior police officials were replaced in the wake of criticism of the police's handling of the raid.

Greek forces to participate in Cypriot exercise

Greek air and naval forces will be taking part in the six-day Cypriot National Guard exercise "Nikiforos" which begins next Tuesday, according to an ANA despatch from Nicosia. Details of the exercise were announced to journalists in Nicosia this morning by the chief of the National Guard, Major Panagiotis Tatsiopoulos. Tatsiopoulos said "Nikiforos" was being held in conjunction with the Greek armed forces exercise "Toxotis" within the framework of the two countries' joint defence doctrine.

Police arrest 60 Kurdish illegal immigrants

Police in Thessaloniki reported they had arrested a group of 60 illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin on Friday. The group were found living on a construction site in the northern capital. Police say they were brought into the country by a gang of illegal immigrant smugglers and would probably have spread out throughout the country seeking work. The group are being detained pending deportation.

Four arrested in drugs haul

Police in Kastoria said on Friday that they had arrested three Albanians and a Greek who were found in possession of 10 kilos of hashish and are believed to have been smuggling the narcotic into the country from Albania. The arrested were identified as Petros Moumgiakmas, 36, a fruit merchant from Yiannitsa, northern Greece and Albanians Kourtsi Baldehu, 24, Dimitris Peronkas, 29 and Konstantin Tamousi, 19, who were also residing in Yiannitsa. All four were due to appear before a public prosecutor today.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece on Friday with scattered cloud in the eastern islands of the country. Winds will be northerly, northwesterly, light to strong. Fair in Athens where temperatures will range between 9-22C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 7-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.111 British pound 476.120 Japanese yen (100) 235.471 French franc 51.021 German mark 171.060 Italian lira (100) 17.286 Irish Punt 426.560 Belgian franc 8.292 Finnish mark 56.236 Dutch guilder 151.667 Danish kr. 44.997 Austrian sch. 24.314 Spanish peseta 2.013 Swedish kr. 35.137 Norwegian kr. 36.527 Swiss franc 210.006 Port. Escudo 1.669 Aus. dollar 176.556 Can. dollar 181.119 Cyprus pound 578.376

(M.P.)


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