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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-26

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, 26/11/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Inflation expected to drop to 4.1 pct in December
  • Israeli minister on possible defence cooperation with Athens
  • Christodoulos mediation in Serbian, FYROM church dispute
  • PM on police issues
  • Defence Directory latest edition
  • Gov't lists firms taking part in anti-inflation price cuts, freeze
  • Contractors again submit bids for delayed Dr 45 bln project
  • Hellenic Petroleum completes buyout of Mamidakis
  • Gov't to auction 12-M T-bills tomorrow
  • Gov't launches restructuring for exports group
  • Stocks shed gains in technical correction
  • Heightened monitoring of public works projects occurring
  • Int'l shipping conference opens in Piraeus
  • SECI agreement on SE Europe transports signed in Athens
  • Petrol prices drop
  • Panathinaikos loses, Olympiakos wins
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Inflation expected to drop to 4.1 pct in December

Consumer price inflation is expected to fall to 4.1 percent in December, declining to 2.0 percent in the same month of 1999, deputy central bank governor Panayotis Thomopoulos said yesterday.

The country was making every effort to meet alignment criteria with the European Union that will allow entry into economic and monetary union by the government's target date of January 1, 2001, Mr. Thomopoulos said.

"Greece is no longer an emerging economy, and should not be viewed as such, " he said.

Consumer price inflation in October was 4.7 percent year-on-year, down from 5.2 percent in September.

Although the economy had a poor record in the past, steps were being taken to remove prejudices that still remained. The deputy governor was speaking at a shipping club in Piraeus as part of an international meeting in the port city.

Gov't lists firms taking part in anti-inflation price cuts, freeze

Israeli minister on possible defence cooperation with Athens

Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai made an explicit proposal for Greek-Israeli military cooperation, similar to that between Israel and Turkey, while speaking to a group of Greek reporters here yesterday.

Mr. Mordechai, who is expected to arrive in Greece on Dec. 19, said that Israel "wants to build the same cooperation with Greece".

He categorically denied a report in the Turkish daily "Hurriyet" that the secretary general of the Israeli defence ministry reportedly said that "before examining an issue of military cooperation with Greece and Cyprus, Israel will take Turkey's vital interests into consideration."

"They are groundless and do not live up to the truth," the Israeli minister said, repeating that Israel's cooperation with Turkey "is not directed against any third country. Nothing has changed in our policy."

Questioned on Ankara's effort to exploit cooperation with Israel and direct it to an anti-Greek or anti-Cypriot direction, Mr. Mordechai said that "nothing has changed in relations between Israel and Turkey at this period. We want to build the same coop eration with Greece."

Mr. Mordechai said that during his visit to Greece he will be discussing naval cooperation between the two countries. He also said that a year ago he had called the Greek ambassador to Tel Aviv and had asked him whether Athens wishes to participate in the joint naval search and rescue exercises in the Mediterranean between Israel, Turkey and the US.

Mr. Mordechai also said that Israel offered to mediate between Greece and Turkey to resolve differences between the two countries.

"I believe that if we can help for a way to be found for the dispute to be resolved we will support it," he said.

Christodoulos mediation in Serbian, FYROM church dispute

The break-away Orthodox church in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) yesterday announced that it had accepted Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos' mediation in resolving a long-time dispute with the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The announcement appeared in a Belgrade daily yesterday, according to which the decision will be forwarded to the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece in writing.

Apparently, Christodoulos' initiative occurred during an unofficial meeting recently between the Archbishop and FYROM church representatives at a border post in Florina prefecture.

The mini-schism dates to 1967, when the FYROM church broke away from the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate and declared its autonomy. Portugal's Porto 2- 1 in Athens.

PM on police issues

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the operation of enlarged police stations is being reconsidered, in order to judge whether the measure has had any effect, while further decisions will be taken after the evaluation of results of a relevant study.

The premier was replying to a question tabled in Parliament by ruling PASOK deputy Nasos Alevras, concerning measures to improve policing in the Greek capital.

Mr. Simitis said the government was seeking to make the police force more effective by bringing 3,000 to 4,000 police officers into active service units, while he referred to decisions for more partols in the city.

Defence Directory latest edition

The latest edition of the "Defense Directory", an English-language publication was unveiled yesterday.

The guide deals with Greek foreign and defence policy. The second part of the publication refers to the armaments programmes of Greece and Turkey, while another focuses on the Greek defence industry and companies.

Gov't lists firms taking part in anti-inflation price cuts, freeze

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday released a list of hundreds of businesses in manufacturing, commerce and services that have agreed to a government plan to lower or freeze their prices in 1999.

The plan aims to bring down consumer price inflation and ensure the country's participation in European economic and monetary union (EMU) by January 1, 2001.

Ms Papandreou said that any price increases would not be higher than the anticipated inflation rate, and that the scheme to lower or freeze prices would safeguard the real income of consumers.

Among sectors and services included in the agreement are building materials, furniture, electrical appliances, apparel, electronic games, plumbing services, parking charges, hairdressing, dental treatment, foodstuffs, fast food, restaurants, cafes, gymn asiums and insurance premiums.

Both domestically produced goods and imports will have their prices reduced or frozen.

In some cases individual firms have stated their agreement to the scheme, and in others, trade associations.

The minister said the deal showed that the business sector had confidence in the government's drive to place the country on an equal footing with other European Union states.

Attaining the agreements with companies on prices was also evidence of the effectiveness of recent government measures to lower indirect taxes and freeze public utility rates, Ms Papandreou said.

The two moves had helped to lower production costs, facilitating a freeze or cut in consumer prices.

Contractors again submit bids for delayed Dr 45 bln project

Consortiums in a severely delayed tender for the second phase of a project to build a high-tech wastewater treatment plant for the capital resubmitted bids yesterday following a change in the tender's rules.

Financial and technical bids were originally submitted in May 1997 for the 45 billion drachma construction project at Psyttalia in a tender employing a shortlist arrangement, called by the public works ministry.

Evaluation ended in July this year but the ministry decided to declare all bids null and void following vigorous objections by some of the groups that technical data on the basis of which they calculated their offers was inadequate.

Following consultations with the tender's six bidders, the ministry decided to draw up a new preliminary study for the project's second phase and call for fresh financial bids.

A contract is expected to be signed with the lowest bidder.

The competing consortiums and their latest bids are as follows:

  • Themeliodomi, Hellenic Technodomi, Passavant Werke Aggiovanni Putignano & Figli (Dr 33,987,000)
  • Austrian Energy & Environment SGP/WB, TE, Christophoros D. Konstandinidis, ATE Gnomon (Dr 35,200,000,000)
  • Degremont, Eteth,TEB (Dr 37,710,000,000)
  • Michaniki, Hans Brochier (Dr 39,100,000,000)
  • SA SNC Lavalin Europe, GEK, Tega (Dr 45,258,838,511)

The sixth consortium, Athina with FCC, did not submit a new bid.

Hellenic Petroleum completes buyout of Mamidakis

State-owned Hellenic Petroleum, which is listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday acquired Mamidakis and Associates through its subsidiary EKO- ELDA.

The Hellenic Petroleum Group now owns Mamidakis' six high-technology installations with a total capacity of 217 km3, and 530 liquid fuel outlets.

Signing the handover of shares was Hellenic Petroleum's president and managing director, Eleftherios Tzellas, the managing director of EKO-ELDA, and a representative of the Mamidakis family, the majority shareholder in the firm, and small shareholders.

Gov't to auction 12-M T-bills tomorrow

The finance ministry tomorrow will auction 12-month Treasury bills in electronic form totalling 180 billion drachmas.

The auction is open to primary dealers, and the ministry will pay a 0.45 percent commission to participating banks. It also plans to hold a public offering of two-year savings bonds in electronic form on December 2 and December 3.

Gov't launches restructuring for exports group

The government launched a restructuring for the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) yesterday as part of its drive to modernise state companies.

Signing the management contract were National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Deputy National Economy Minister Alexandros Baltas and HEPO's chairman, Yiannis Tzen.

The contract sets out the organisation's role, aims and activities as follows:

  • Consultant to the state on foreign trade
  • Information agency on exports promotion
  • Providing support services to exporters
  • Developing a domestic cooperation network

The organisation's funding will be secured from the European Union, the state and private resources.

HEPO's restructuring will be achieved through cutbacks in its operational costs, a rationalisation of human resources and a repricing of its services.

Stocks shed gains in technical correction

Equities ended lower yesterday in what traders described as a normal correction following a five-day advance that drove the Athens Stock Exchange 8.30 percent higher.

The general index ended 0.73 percent down at 2,476.75 points, off the day's lows.

Trading was moderate with turnover at 55.7 billion drachmas.

Sector indices lost ground.

Banks fell 0.80 percent, Leasing dropped 0.09 percent, Insurance eased 0.20 percent, Investment ended 0.85 percent off, Construction jumped 4.53 percent, Industrials ended 1.33 percent down, Miscellaneous rose 0.03 percent and Holding increased 0.28 per cent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.74 percent up, reflecting interest in smaller capitalisation stocks.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 141 to 112 with another 11 issues unchanged. Volume was 14,690,000 shares.

National Bank of Greece ended at 50,100 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,250, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,830, Ionian Bank at 12,130, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,145, Delta Dairy at 3,690, Intracom at 13,560, Titan Cement at 19,360, Hellenic Petro leum at 2,365 and Minoan Lines at 6,430 drachmas.

Heightened monitoring of public works projects occurring

Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday that for the first time ever in Greece, public works projects are being checked to such a high degree.

Speaking in Parliament on the issue of transparency and legality in public works, he added that 20,000 projects are currently being carried out throughout the country, improving infrastructure, increasing jobs and boosting the economy.

Mr. Simitis, replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis, said that after problems of quality and cost that appeared in certain projects in the first Community Support Framework (1989- 1993), the environment, town planning and public works ministry has promoted settlements which, among others, are the hiring of management and construction advisers for major projects, intensification of controls from the group of public works inspectors and consolidation of a "Spec ial Qualitative Control Adviser" (ESPEL) who has conducted sample checks at 1, 500 public works.

Mr. Simitis said that the ministry has imposed, after systematic checks, sanctions and fines amounting to seven billion drachmas on contractors to remedy substandard work and has taken back contracts from 28 businesses.

Int'l shipping conference opens in Piraeus

Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis yesterday called for a reorganisation of the shipping industry.

Mr. Soumakis, in his opening address to the 16th annual International Meeting in Piraeus, organised by the Piraeus Marine Club and the City University Business School of London, said it was imperative that the shipping sector be ready for the transition from the drachma to the euro.

"Shipping, as the most globalised industry and activity, is subject to and directly affected by international changes and economic crisis...the impact of such crisis was and still is immediate and clear, such as imbalances in the cargo market, low shipp ing rates and reductions in the prices of ships, which have led to the overturn of a fragile balance in the shipping sector, causing many problems to many shipping companies," he said.

SECI agreement on SE Europe transports signed in Athens

An agreement for transports in southeastern Europe, part of the "SECI" initiative, was signed yesterday in Athens by Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Greece.

The agreement is aimed at a gradual deregulation of the international road transports market.

The text of the agreement was put together by the Greek transport ministry.

Petrol prices drop

The retail sales prices of gasoline and diesel will decrease as from today and for a week, the government announced.

Decreases will be 3.10 drachmas per litre for super gasoline, 3.20 drachmas per litre for unleaded, 2.50 drachmas per litre for diesel and 2.20 drachmas per litre for heating oil (for quantities more than 1,000 litres).

In the Attica area and Thessaloniki prefecture, super will cost 194.80 drachmas per litre, unleaded 178.30 drachmas per litre and heating oil 67.10 drachmas per litre (for quantities more than 1,000 litres).

Panathinaikos loses, Olympiakos wins

Panathinaikos lost 2-1 to Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev last night in the European Champions' Leage group E. The Kiev match was watched by 35,000 spectators. In group A, Olymkpiakos of Piraeus defeated Portugal's Porto 2-1 in Athens.

WEATHER

Rainstorms and snowfall are forecast for most parts of Greece today and will continue until Saturday. The worst regions to be hit will be central, western and northern Greece. Rain and possible rainstorm in Athens with temperatures between 8-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6- 13C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.720 British pound 470.208 Japanese yen (100) 233.914 French franc 49.646 German mark 166.458 Italian lira (100) 16.813 Irish Punt 413.664 Belgian franc 8.070 Finnish mark 54.758 Dutch guilder 147.654 Danish kr. 43.781 Austrian sch. 23.663 Spanish peseta 1.957 Swedish kr. 34.928 Norwegian kr. 37.835 Swiss franc 201.773 Port. Escudo 1.625 Aus. dollar 181.541 Can. dollar 182.528 Cyprus pound 562.841

(C.E.)


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