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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-02-20

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1421), February 20, 1998

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] New development incentives bill tabled in Parliament
  • [02] Deadline for EU citizens wishing to vote in Greece
  • [03] Greece reiterates position on Iraqi crisis
  • [04] G. Papandreou: Progress on Cyprus will ease Greek-Turkish tensions
  • [05] PASOK youth organization to proceed with conference
  • [06] Commission responds to question on Greek mobile phone tax
  • [07] Karamanlis meets in Brussels with EU, NATO leadership
  • [08] Blair turns down Bassett request
  • [09] Greek police deliver aid to Albanian police
  • [10] National Bank comes in second in Bulgarian Post Bank tender
  • [11] General Motors dealership the latest bomb target
  • [12] ... US ambassador
  • [13] Euro-MP Tsatsos in Albania
  • [14] Greenpeace members on trial for '94 takeover of Thessaloniki plant
  • [15] New fleet commander
  • [16] Gov't on expected Holbrooke initiative regarding Cyprus
  • [17] Cloning proponent Seed arrives in Greece
  • [18] Karamanlis to speak at FPA luncheon
  • [19] Evert press interview touches on recent ND expulsions
  • [20] Police find drugs, arms in forest
  • [21] Study: Greece has the lowest level of part-time employment in EU
  • [22] Eurocourt decision convicts Greece
  • [23] US trade delegation to visit Greece
  • [24] Xiosbank reports 115 pct profit jump in 1997
  • [25] Franchising code of ethics
  • [26] Greek money market calms, rates drop below 15 pct
  • [27] Greek stocks slump again, shrug off rate drop
  • [28] Bulgarian officials to Thessaloniki for business talks
  • [29] Greeks back part-flotations for state utilities
  • [30] Greek gov't submits bill to parliament on overdue loan charge
  • [31] Greece's National Mortgage Bank reports lower 1997 profit
  • [32] Greece's Allianz/Helvetia shows 50 pct rise in premiums Jan
  • [33] Greek water board workers threaten strikes over float

  • [01] New development incentives bill tabled in Parliament

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    A bill containing new development incentives aimed at boosting private investments was tabled in Parliament yesterday. The bill concerns revision and reorientation of incentives for the country's economic and regional development.

    The following basic changes are introduced in the regime governed by Law 1892/90, which is abolished, namely: Subsidization of capital is replaced by subsidization of the interest rate and tax exemptions for existing enterprises carrying out modernization and expansion investments. Subsidization of capital is maintained for new enterprises and special forms of investments.

    The largest degree of free subsidization is reduced to 40 per cent, while the minimum participation of the investor increases correspondingly to 40 per cent. It is determined that Zone C (average degree of support) includes regions having major problems in employment.

    Subsidies for the creation of new hotel units are restricted and funds are directed to investments which improve the quality and differentiate the tourist product. A ceiling is set for the subsidy paid for each new permanent job created. The ceiling is 15 million drachmas per job. It will be controlled for five years from the time of completion of the investment.

    Emphasis is placed on modernizing and strengthening the international competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises with tax exemptions and subsidies for joint investments, etc.

    Support is given for integrated business plans to salvage and restructure viable enterprises in the manufacturing sector and in mines. The process is simplified for the approval and monitoring of plans by old or new enterprises for the granting of investment loans.

    Changes are introduced in the system of appraisals of applications for new enterprises and special investments (subsidization incentive).

    [02] Deadline for EU citizens wishing to vote in Greece

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Citizens of other EU countries wishing to vote in Greek local government elections this year, and for the Europarliament in 1999-provided they have been residing in the country for at least two years- will have to submit applications by March 31.

    Applications should be submitted to prefectural headquarters for those residing in prefecture seats, and directly to municipal authorities for the rest. Greek citizens residing abroad may inquire at local consular authorities.

    [03] Greece reiterates position on Iraqi crisis

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Iraq should accept relevant UN resolutions in their entirety and co-operate with UN weapons inspectors for their implementation, Athens stressed yesterday in an announcement on the eve of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's visit to Baghdad.

    "The Greek government is following the escalation of the crisis with particular concern. The friendship which the Greek people feel towards the Iraqi people is well known, as is Greece's basic position of principle regarding adherence to UN resolutions. We believe that Iraq should accept the relevant UN resolutions in their entirety and co-operate with UNSCOM for their implementation," the announcement read.

    The government said it is actively supporting efforts undertaken by Russia, France, the Arab League and Mr. Annan, while expressing a hope that the UN chief's visit to Iraq would open the way for a diplomatic solution to the crisis over weapons inspection, "even at the last minute". "We, therefore, appeal to Iraq's leadership to allow UNSCOM to continue its task," the announcement stated.

    [04] G. Papandreou: Progress on Cyprus will ease Greek-Turkish tensions

    Bonn, 20/02/1998 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    In an interview with today's edition of the newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau", Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said progress on the Cyprus issue would ease the tense political climate between Greece and Turkey considerably.

    He also called on Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to revise their negative position concerning Cyprus' accession to the European Union. Mr. Papandreou said "accession negotiations provide the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey with a historic opportunity, given that the accession of Cyprus to the EU would constitute a bridgehead to Europe for them.

    For the Turkish Cypriots in particular, apart from economic advantages, the accession of Cyprus to the EU consolidates their incorporation into European institutions."

    On the question of the Turkish Cypriots' participation in accession negotiations, Mr. Papandreou said that "the government of Cyprus is working in this direction" and that the Greek government "urgently desires this." "We do not want the EU to become a field for Greek-Turkish confrontation. On the contrary, the EU should become a rostrum for reconciliation between the two peoples."

    Rejecting Turkish claims that Greece is doing everything it can to keep Turkey out of the EU, Mr. Papandreou said that "we have stated repeatedly that we desire Turkey's rapprochement with the EU.

    This could mean something important for Greece, namely the achievement of a permanent ditente in bilateral relations. Turkey belongs to Europe."

    Mr. Papandreou considers Turkey's accession prospect "self-evident", saying that "we are the last to close this door for it" and adding that "it is preventing its own self" due to shortfalls in the human rights sector due to the war against the Kurds and due to the dominant role played by the military in Turkey's political life.

    Replying to a question on a recent five-point proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, Mr. Papandreou said "there will be an official reply soon" by the Greek government to the Turkish proposals.

    He said that while Ankara rejects Greece's proposals for a step-by-step handling of problems, it is "trying to impose a dialogue on all its claims, even those directly offending international law or questioning the sovereignty of Greece." "There can be no negotiations on claims of such a kind. In such cases, Ankara must resort to the International Court," he added.

    [05] PASOK youth organization to proceed with conference

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    PASOK's youth organization yesterday decided to hold its conference despite of a request by PASOK's political secretariat to postpone it.

    The political secretariat issued a press release stating that it attempted to avert what it called a "divisive development".

    Furthermore, the political secretariat decided not to support the youth conference if it takes place under present terms, but recognized that the final decision belongs to the youth group's leadership, since it is autonomous.

    A coalition that includes the "modernizers" wing within the youth organization is currently abstaining from the conference's procedures.

    PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said that postponement could aid the youth organization to better organize its functions.

    On her part, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou requested that the youth organization "remain PASOK", and not convey its problems to the party.

    Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said responsibility for the final decision lies with the youth organization's leadership.

    [06] Commission responds to question on Greek mobile phone tax

    Strasbourg, 20/02/1998 (ANA - C. Haralambopoulos)

    European Commissioner for the internal market, financial services, customs and taxation, Mario Monti, left open the possibility of the Commission taking recourse against Greece over its decision to impose taxes on mobile phone use.

    Mr. Monti was responding to a tabled question from Pol.An Euro-MP Nikitas Kaklamanis.

    "If the relevant law is being imposed only on private mobile phone suppliers in Greece and affects competition in favor of the state organization OTE, then the measure in question should be examined on the basis of the European Union's competition rules," Mr. Monti's response read.

    "All issues of violation of Community legislation should be referred to the European Court," he ended.

    [07] Karamanlis meets in Brussels with EU, NATO leadership

    Brussels, 20/02/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday met here with EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis.

    Speaking to the press after the meeting, Mr. Karamanlis said their talks focused on employment and agriculture issues.

    Mr. Papoutsis said that the government and the opposition must coordinate efforts to confront the problems Greece is facing in qualifying for Economic and Monetary Union.

    Later in the day, Mr. Karamanlis met with Commissioner Hans van den Broek for talks on the EU's foreign relations.

    Mr. van den Broek said that Cyprus and EU-Turkish relations were the focus of their discussion, while he noted that the issue of Turkish Cypriot participation in the island republic's EU accession talks is important.

    Later, after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, Mr. Karamanlis said: "We discussed all issues of mutual concern. On the question of the new structure of the alliance, I told the Secretary General that it is acceptable, taking into consideration that the sovereign rights and national interests of Greece must not be abused. I pointed this out because we have the experience of the factor of the continuous escalation and provocativeness by Turkey, which must probably have led to the prediction or maybe to the future prediction of certain special settlements."

    "In any case, the confidence-building measures can move ahead and be productive provided they fulfill certain preconditions. Firstly, they must take into consideration and respect what is applied internationally, namely, what emanates from international law and international agreements. "And secondly, which is self-evident, they must not harm and not abuse sovereign rights of Greece," he added.

    [08] Blair turns down Bassett request

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Eight-year old Theo Bassett, of Skipton, England, is quite clear about where the Parthenon Sculptures should be. "I think we should give the Greek people their marbles back. I think that would be the right thing to do," he told British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a letter after and inspection of the Parthenon.

    "It is a very important building for the Greek people," who had no say when Lord Elgin "got the marbles off the Turks" in the early 19th century, he suggested.

    The reply was disappointing: "The Government recognizes the importance of the history of Greek culture and thinking to all modern Europeans. However ... the Sculptures were legally acquired and are vested in the Trustees of the British Museum. Under the Museum's governing statute (British Museum Act 1963) the trustees are prevented from disposing of objects in the Museum's collections unless they are duplicates or worthless... "

    "The Sculptures form an integral part of the museum's whole collection. The Government believes that any general attempt to return legally acquired objects to their countries of origin could result in dispensing some of the world's great collections," said the reply.

    [09] Greek police deliver aid to Albanian police

    Gjirokaster, Albania 20/02/1998 (ATA/ANA)

    Police in the Epirus region on Wednesday sent their colleagues in the Albanian town of Gjirokaster millions of drachmas worth of aid. Epirus Police Chief Ilias Krokidis and his Gjirokaster counterpart Islam Qibini considered relations between the two police departments very productive.

    The aid includes 300 police uniforms, logistical support and equipment for the police dormitory.

    [10] National Bank comes in second in Bulgarian Post Bank tender

    Sofia, 20/02/1998 (BTA/ANA)

    The Board of Directors of the Bank Consolidation Company (BCC) decided Wednesday afternoon that the Japanese Nomura International investment bank had made the best offer for starting negotiations on the privatization of the Bulgarian Post Bank. The National Bank of Greece's bid came second.

    "We chose Nomura's offer as a successful combination of an encouraging price, a strong business plan and intentions to invest, said BCC CEO Peter Zhotev. Should these negotiations fail, new negotiations will start on the second offer - that of the National Bank of Greece.

    [11] General Motors dealership the latest bomb target

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Authorities suspect that a bomb attack against a General Motors showroom in Athens early yesterday morning may be the work of Greece's most infamous terrorist group, "November 17", according to public order ministry sources.

    Though there is no hard evidence to support this view, the sources said, remains of an alarm clock found at the scene of the blast are identical with clocks used as timing devices in past bomb attacks subsequently claimed by November 17.

    In addition, November 17 has in the past claimed responsibility for attacking four targets related to US interests, in order to express solidarity with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. They warned at the time that such attacks would be repeated if the US struck Iraq, as appears likely at the present time.

    The bomb went off outside the General Motors showroom shortly after midnight, causing damage to the building but no injuries.

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas said later yesterday that the police were still investigating the incident and it would be premature to speculate on who could be behind the attack.

    [12] ... US ambassador

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns said yesterday that Washington respected Greek police, with which it had been working for the past 20 years.

    Referring to yesterday's bomb attack on the General Motors dealership, he said that it was an issue exclusively for Greek authorities. "I don't know who could be behind this bomb attack, this is something Greek police are investigating. Personally, I do not believe that this attack has anything to do with what is happening in the (Persian) Gulf."

    Mr. Burns was speaking after a visit to Attica police headquarters on Alexandras Avenue, where he met with senior officials. Talks focused on the fight against terrorism, the narcotics trade and other issues of mutual interest.

    [13] Euro-MP Tsatsos in Albania

    Tirana, 20/02/1998 (ANA - P. Haritos)

    Greek Euro-deputy and constitutional law expert Demetris Tsatsos was do to arrive here yesterday, having been invited for a four-day visit by the Albanian Parliament's constitutional committee.

    He will meet with party leaders, politicians, jurists and officials of non-governmental organizations, in an effort to aid in the drafting of that country's new constitution.

    [14] Greenpeace members on trial for '94 takeover of Thessaloniki plant

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Two members of the international environment advocacy group Greenpeace will stand trial at a Thessaloniki court for participating in a takeover of a local petrochemical plant in December 1994.

    "We are being charged for doing what the state should have done," said the head of the Greek office of Greenpeace, Stelios Psomas. He and the organization's campaign chief, Nikos Haralambidis, will be in the dock.

    On Dec. 2, 1994 and following a four-day takeover of the plant, the environment ministry, in co-operation with the Macedonia-Thrace ministry and National Bank, decided to end production ozone layer-depleting substances.

    [15] New fleet commander

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    The council of chiefs of general staff yesterday decided to promote Vice-Adm. Nikolaos Katsaros to the post of fleet commander and with the rank of rear admiral. The regular promotions and retirements board meetings will begin March 1.

    [16] Gov't on expected Holbrooke initiative regarding Cyprus

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas yesterday said Athens is expecting the complete Holbrooke initiative on the Cyprus problem before it states its position. He also added that it is still early to argue that there is a plan for solution of the Cyprus issue.

    [17] Cloning proponent Seed arrives in Greece

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Controversial Chicago physicist Richard Seed reiterated here yesterday that he was determined to begin experiments on human cloning, expressed the hope that he would be able to work with Greek scientists in the venture.

    Dr. Seed, who arrived in Athens yesterday and is due to give a press conference at a private clinic today, said that for the time being he had not decided in which country to begin his experiments.

    Greece, along with other European countries, has signed a protocol banning human cloning experiments.

    Meanwhile, renowned Russian geneticist Yuri Verlinski, who is also in Greece, told a press conference in Athens yesterday that he was in favor of cloning experiments, provided they did not involve humans. Athens News Agency

    [18] Karamanlis to speak at FPA luncheon

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis will be the guest speaker at a luncheon given in his honor by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Grande Bretagne Hotel. Mr. Karamanlis is expected to outline ND's positions and reply to press questions.

    [19] Evert press interview touches on recent ND expulsions

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Former New Democracy leader Miltiadis Evert expressed his disagreement over the expulsions of six ND deputies from the main opposition party earlier this month, advising them to not create a new party. Mr. Evert, in an interview with the Athens daily "Eleftheros Typos", said that it is too early, however, for initiatives to bring the six deputies back into the fold.

    [20] Police find drugs, arms in forest

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Drug squad officers yesterday announced the discovery of 100 kilos of marijuana and three Kalashnikov assault rifles hidden in woodland at Exochi, Konitsa near the border with Albania. The police had already found the stash and had placed the location under surveillance for the last two days.

    Yesterday they removed the rifles and marijuana, packed in six large sacks, after no one came to collect them. The police believe a 26-year-old Albanian identified as Pipi Kokivesi, who was arrested in Aghia Varvara, Konitsa after traces of marijuana were found in his rented car, may be implicated in the case.

    [21] Study: Greece has the lowest level of part-time employment in EU

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    According to a study by the National Employment Institute, Greece has the lowest level of part-time employment at 4.8 per cent, compared to the European Union average of 13.5 per cent. The results of the study were unveiled yesterday during a press conference.

    However, in Greece temporary or part-time employment is compulsory in contrast to EU countries, where it is voluntary.

    According to data, one in 10 workers in Greece is temporarily employed and 40 per cent of those workers are women.

    On the question of the country's work-force, 63.8 per cent are obliged to work on Saturdays and 33.2 per cent even on Sundays. According to figures, 13.9 per cent are also obliged to work at night.

    The settlement of work schedules is not been used in Greece as a means of redistributing employment, crea-ting new jobs or safeguarding jobs in loss-making sectors or declining regions.

    "Despite steps taken in our country over past years to modernize the labor relations system, the Greek model of employment continues to be dominated by the ideological hegemony of the five-day, eight-hour work week", the study states, adding that Greece presents considerable differences in employment models and in organizing work time compared to most EU countries, particularly northern countries.

    For example, Greece has the lengthiest work week (44 hours), while the average for the EU is 38.8 hours. At the same time, it has the highest frequencies of overtime work and extra work. EU countries have focused in past years on the need for greater flexibility in the labor market since the globalization of production and markets and high percentages of unemployment have started to threaten correlations existing to date.

    For this reason, Greece has started to be interested in new forms of labor and the differentiation of institutional frameworks so that they will reflect the new reality of labor.

    Apart from the effort to interpret new tendencies, to track existing conditions and set out the new forms of labor, and primarily flexible labor, the study also makes policy proposals aimed at harmonizing the labor force with the new reality.

    "The pressing need for flexible labor and the reshaping of work time must not ignore the objective restrictions being faced by both the economy in its entirety and enterprises," the study notes.

    [22] Eurocourt decision convicts Greece

    Brussels, 20/02/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Court yesterday convicted Greece for failing to adjust several laws to European Union norms.

    The European Court ruled that Greece has not promoted necessary legislative clauses to comply with directive 90/434/EOK concerning the taxation status for mergers, divisions, contributions of assets and exchanges of shares regarding companies from different member-states.

    The government has stated that it will enact necessary legislative clauses and that this settlement is pending in Parliament.

    [23] US trade delegation to visit Greece

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    A US trade delegation of medical equipment suppliers will visit Athens February 23-24 in order to find representatives for their products or form joint ventures.

    The US Embassy's commercial section is to arrange a meeting of the eight firms' representatives with Greek businesses.

    The delegation is also visiting Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. One firm in the group builds and supplies hospitals under turnkey deals.

    [24] Xiosbank reports 115 pct profit jump in 1997

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's private Xiosbank, which is listed on the Athens bourse, reported pre-tax 1997 profits of 4.5 billion drachmas from 2.1 billion a year earlier, marking an 115 percent jump.

    Deposits totaled 209 billion drachmas, up 19 percent, and loans 132 billion drachmas, 26 percent higher. Loans included 79 billion drachmas in consumer and housing credit, which posted an 18 percent increase, and business credit of 43 billion drachmas, up 40 percent.

    [25] Franchising code of ethics

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Development ministry secretary general Ilias Apostolakis yesterday said that the government will support the Greek Franchise Federation's new code of ethics, presented at the end of a two-day conference organized by the 'Economist' magazine.

    Attorney Yiannos Grammatidis, who drafted the code, said that when finalized its use will be mandatory by all federation members.

    [26] Greek money market calms, rates drop below 15 pct

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's money market is stabilizing steadily with interest rates falling below 15 percent for the first time in several months. Bankers said yesterday that one-month interest rates dropped to 14.75 percent, and the overnight rate fluctuated around 10.50-10.75 percent.

    In the interbank market the drachma fell by 0.18 percent and 0.19 percent against the DMark and the ECU respectively. It was slightly firmer, however, against the US dollar. The Bank of Greece reported capital inflows totaling 20 million US dollars at the drachma's daily fixing.

    [27] Greek stocks slump again, shrug off rate drop

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended lower yesterday extending their decline for the sixth consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said the market was ignoring a steadily improving climate in the domestic interbank market and a drop in interest rates. The imposition of a 0.03 percent tax on all securities transactions was seen as a negative factor in the market. The general index closed 0.65 percent lower at 1,446.14 points.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 1.07 percent, Leasing dropped 2.41 percent, Insurance eased 1.25 percent, Investment rose 0.09 percent, Industrials fell 0.06 percent, Construction was 1.34 percent off, Holding increased 0.77 percent and Miscellaneous rose 0.20 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.25 percent higher reflecting the appetite of investors for second-tier stocks with larger returns prospects.

    The FTSE/ASE blue chip index fell 0.82 percent to end at 798.53 points. Trading remained subdued with turnover at 13.5 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 127 to 79 with another 23 issues unchanged. Singular, Ergas, Athinea and Daring scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit, while Etma, Dane, Boutaris and Keranis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 21,350 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,445, Alpha Credit Bank at 15,385, Delta Dairy at 2,810, Titan Cement at 13,680, Intracom at 15,170 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,525.

    [28] Bulgarian officials to Thessaloniki for business talks

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Boshkov and Industry Under-secretary Vladimir Kissiov are due in Thessaloniki on Saturday for a two-day visit, heading a delegation of Bulgarian businessmen.

    The two officials and members of the delegation will meet representatives of the Federation of Northern Greek

    Industry and businessmen active in Bulgaria, who will outline the problems of doing business in Bulgaria.

    The two Bulgarian officials and delegation member Olga Stoyanova, director of the Bulgarian industry ministry's division on international investments, will outline Bulgaria's privatization program and its new investment law.

    The delegation comprises representatives of 20 Bulgarian enterprises in communications, tourism and textiles; and representatives of the Bulgarian stock market and Pariz trade fair.

    [29] Greeks back part-flotations for state utilities

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    The majority of Greeks support the government's policy for a gradual flotation of public utilities, an independent survey released yesterday shows. An survey by ICAP conducted last October in five major Greek cities (Athens, Thessaloniki, Iraklion, Patras and Larissa) with samples from 600 households and 280 businesses, showed that 57.6 percent and 94.3 percent respectively welcomed a recent part-privatization of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization.

    More than 62 percent of Greek households agreed with the government's plan to partly privatize public utilities. Public Power Corporation was the first choice for privatization (59 percent), followed by Olympic Airways (12 percent).

    The survey showed that respondents supported the flotation program for public utilities for two reasons: the first was that flotation provided an easier way to fund restructuring programs; and the second that by entering the stock market public utilities would be better monitored and more efficient.

    [30] Greek gov't submits bill to parliament on overdue loan charge

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    The national economy ministry yesterday submitted to parliament an amendment to the law covering compound interest charged by banks on overdue loans.

    The new legislation provides for a capitalization of overdue payments on all categories of loans (housing, credit card, consumer, business) every six months instead of three.

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that the amendment was a compromise between banks and borrowers in order to maintain stability in the domestic banking system.

    [31] Greece's National Mortgage Bank reports lower 1997 profit

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    National Mortgage Bank of Greece, a subsidiary of state National Bank of Greece, yesterday reported lower net profits in 1997 due to higher provisions earmarked for the bank's portfolio restructuring.

    The bank's net profit fell to 28.2 billion drachmas in 1997 from 36.9 billion a year earlier after provisions of 22.8 billion drachmas.

    Pre-tax profit and provisions totaled 51 billion drachmas, a rise of 7.8 percent from 1996, and total assets were 2.5 trillion drachmas. National Mortgage Bank reported a 5.2 percent rise in 1997 loans totaling more than one trillion drachmas.

    The bank's governor Vassilis Rapanos said that the board of directors would propose to shareholders an 11 percent increase in the dividend. He predicted an improvement in results for the current year.

    Mr. Rapanos also said that domestic interest rates could drop even by the end of the year, reflecting improvement in the country's economy.

    [32] Greece's Allianz/Helvetia shows 50 pct rise in premiums

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    The Allianz/Helvetia insurance group of Greece reported a hefty 50 percent rise in January's insurance premiums to 2.4 billion drachmas compared with the corresponding period last year, a company statement said yesterday. Allianz, a Greek subsidiary of German insurer Allianz AG, and Helvetia decided to merge last year.

    [33] Greek water board workers threaten strikes over float

    Athens, 20/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greek water board (EYDAP) workers yesterday threatened to strike if the socialist government goes ahead with a part-flotation of the public utility as part of its privatization program. The workers said EYDAP was profitable but the state owed the corporation 12.5 billion drachmas. They claimed the price of water would rise sharply and its quality could not be guaranteed if the part-privatization took place.

    End of English language section.


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