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Athens News Agency: News in English, 04-04-30

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Foreign Exchange Rates: Friday
  • [02] Weather Forecast: Scattered cloud on Friday
  • [03] Bank of Greece governor warns of inflation danger
  • [04] PM to meet UN envoy Alvaro de Soto on Friday
  • [05] PM Karamanlis, SAE president Athens confer on oversees Greeks issues

  • [01] Foreign Exchange Rates: Friday

    30/04/2004 10:40:21

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank

    U.S. dollar 1.192

    Pound sterling 0.676

    Danish kroner 7.499

    Swedish kroner 9.191

    Japanese yen 131.9

    Swiss franc 1.557

    Norwegian kroner 8.236

    Cyprus pound 0.591

    Canadian dollar 1.636

    Australian dollar 1.665

    [02] Weather Forecast: Scattered cloud on Friday

    30/04/2004 10:40:14

    Scattered cloud is forecast in all parts of the country, turning to brief showers in the west, centre and south. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens from 11C to 22C and in Thessaloniki between 10C and 20C.

    [03] Bank of Greece governor warns of inflation danger

    29/04/2004 23:38:33

    Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas on Thursday expressed his concern over a possible jump in the inflation rate in the country ahead of the summer Olympic Games and urged the government to adopt a tight fiscal policy.

    Presenting his annual report on the economy, Garganas sounded worried with a widening fiscal deficit and public debt levels and urged for greater transparency in fiscal management. The central banker predicted that achieving real convergence ''will be a major challenge for the country's economic policy in the current and the next decade''.

    Bank of Greece's governor set out five policy priorities:

    - Promoting structural reforms to enhance labour market flexibility and adopting more effective employment policies and reforming a procedure of setting wage pay rises. ''A more effective function of the labour market must be achieved in a way combining employment flexibility and safety for workers,'' Garganas said.

    - supporting business activity through the creation of a business-friendly environment,

    - accelerating privatisations and the deregulation of certain crucial markets to boost competition,

    - upgrading education and attracting foreign scientists in Greece,

    - promoting a restructuring of public administration to become more effective.

    The bank's report emphasized on fiscal restructuring, including efforts to effectively deal with the social insurance problem. ''The social insurance issue remains open,'' Garganas said.

    The central banker urged for cuts in primary budget spending, a development linked with transparency and the abolition of special accounts by government ministries.

    Garganas, however, declined to comment on whether the government's pre-election policy pledges could be implemented in view of the current economic situation and after the news that the country's fiscal deficit exceeded the 3.0 percent limit set by the Stability Pact.

    He set, however, three preconditions to achieve the government's ''ambitious'' goals: First, adopting widespread economic and institutional reforms to boost the country's economic growth potential, second, adopting a suitable fiscal policy orientated towards growth and stability and third, adopting a new policy on rationalising spending in the healthcare sector and dealing with the social insurance problem to ensure a sustainable and long-term fiscal balance.

    Garganas urged for reforms in a procedure of setting wage pay rises and for measures to promote flexibility in the labour market and boosting employment.

    [04] PM to meet UN envoy Alvaro de Soto on Friday

    29/04/2004 23:37:21

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is due to meet United Nations special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto on Friday at 11:30, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.

    The spokesman reiterated that the reunification of Cyprus through an agreed solution remained a goal of the Greek government and that it will strive to preserve current international interest and the present momentum for a solution undiminished, so as to bring about a solution that provided a sense of security for all Cypriots.

    On Thursday morning the premier met World Council of Overseas Hellenes (SAE) president Andrew Athens.

    [05] PM Karamanlis, SAE president Athens confer on oversees Greeks issues

    29/04/2004 23:34:58

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday conferred with National Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens and foreign deputy minister responsible for oversees Greeks affairs Panayotis Skandalakis.

    After the meeting, Skandalakis said talks focussed on plans to upgrade the SAE and the general secretariat for Greeks Abroad, and other issues.

    Athens said he presented new ideas to the prime minister, so that SAE would forge on ahead and so that the State and the people would see that SAE was doing what it should.

    He also said that the Cyprus issue was discussed, so that SAE could aid the efforts, just as it has done for the past 30 years, noting that the Greeks abroad needed to know what Greece and Cyprus were aiming for, particularly in view of Athens' upcoming meeting next month with US assistant secretary of state for European Affairs Marc Grossman.

    According to sources, it was decided that all oversees Greeks and their federations should be incorporated under the SAE umbrella, and that the main target should be to reinforce education and culture, as well as the continued operation of the medical centres set up in the former Eastern bloc countries.

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