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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Georgia-Abkhazia conference to secure CBMs begins in Athens
  • [02] Simitis receives visiting Georgian counterpart Lordkipanidze
  • [03] Greece gets health loan from EIB for the first time
  • [04] Athens: Indirect route for EU funding to Turkey legally groundless
  • [05] Demirel: 'We must learn to live with our differences'
  • [06] Pangalos: No progress made in Greek-Turkish relations at recent summit
  • [07] Naval exercise in Aegean
  • [08] Greek units to participate in Cypriot military exercise
  • [09] Greek-German Chamber of Commerce offer
  • [10] Revolutionary figures Ferraios, Solomos honoured with coin editions
  • [11] More heliports on Aegean isles
  • [12] Taiwan backs Straits Exchange Foundation, Association for Relations Across Taiwan Strait meeting
  • [13] Fiber-optics network along rail lines in SE Europe approved
  • [14] Cache of ancient coins confiscated by police
  • [15] Conference on space techniques for Mediterranean environmental management
  • [16] 60 Kurdish illegals detained
  • [17] Fischler: Compensation possible for natural disaster-related farm losses
  • [18] Greek stocks surge in active trade, following markets abroad
  • [19] Domestic money, bond markets welcome US rate cut
  • [20] Gov't to include indirect tax cuts in 1999 budget
  • [21] New Democracy says gov't tax cut pledge is to pull votes
  • [22] Vernicos Yachts sets up new firm
  • [23] One in four Greek businesses checked found tax dodging
  • [24] Athens bourse picks up steam aided by rate declines
  • [25] Alpha Credit lending rates

  • [01] Georgia-Abkhazia conference to secure CBMs begins in Athens

    A conference between Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia opened in Athens yesterday, aimed at securing confidence-building measures (CBMs) between the two sides.

    Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos expressed the hope that the conference, which is being held at the seaside resort of Vouliagmeni near Athens and under the aegis of the United Nations, will bring positive results at least regarding the adoption of measures which will facilitate communication between the two sides.

    Abkhaz separatists drove Geor-gian troops and 150,000 civilians from the territory after Georgian irregulars entered Abkhazia when the local parliament took steps towards attaining greater sovereignty.

    Clashes have continued for the past six years.

    Abkhazia, which has not gained international recognition as an independent state, accounts for approximately one fifth of Georgian territory.

    Mr. Pangalos spoke of building a framework which would allow a political solution to the problem, while observing that if a "positive example" emerges from the process, "then this could also apply in similar problems where one of the sides refuses to enter into negotiations".

    Both the Georgian and Abkhazian delegations, led respectively by Premier Vazha Lordkipanidze and the head of the separatist government, Sergei Bagapsh, praised Athens' role in efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement to the problem. According to the UN secretary-general's special envoy, Ambassador Lydiou Bota, who is also attending the conference, the agenda includes discussion of specific proposals in various sectors and the formulation and adoption of CBMs. The conference ends on Sunday.

    In order to facilitate the adoption of CBMs, a number of countries will be providing assistance. These include Russia, as a mediating country, and the members of the "Friends of the UN Secretary-General" group, namely, the USA, France, Russia, Britain a nd Germany.

    Although the ultimate objective is to find an overall and lasting solution to the problem, priority is presently being given to secure the safe return of refugees to Abkhazia, the resolution of the sovereignty aspect, as well as a number of economic and humanitarian problems. Mr. Pangalos said Greece did not feel itself to be a third party in the problem between Georgia and Abkhazia but rather was directly interested in establishing peace, security and prosperity in the region.

    -- Pangalos: -- Mr. Pangalos, in his opening remarks, noted:

    "Greece, a member of the European Union and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact, pursues a policy promoting stability, good-neigh-bourly relations, cooperation and economic development in our region.

    "We feel the drama of the Abkhazian war as our own, and we strongly desire its end for a better futureIrelated to the re-establish-ment of peace, security and prosperity in our region. Greece is committed to this goal and would like to contribute to its achievement.

    "We know that there is much that separates you, but what unites you is more important...I express the strong desire that this meeting on confidence- building measures will bring about the results that we all hope for," he concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis receives visiting Georgian counterpart Lordkipanidze

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had a 45-minute meeting yesterday with his Georgian counterpart Vazha Lordkipanidze, in Athens at the head of a delegation to participate in a UN-sponsored conference on confidence- building measures (CBMs) between Georgia and the breakway region of Abkhazia.

    Discussion centred on the Abkhazian question, bilateral relations, issues concerning the ethnic Greek minority in Georgia, and the potential for developing a Greek business presence in the country.

    Mr. Simitis held out Athens' position for a mutually acceptable solution to the problem of Abkhazia, on condition that Georgia's territorial integrity is fully safeguarded.

    On his part, Mr. Lordkipanidze also conveyed a message from his country's president Edward Shevardnadze, and invited Mr. Simitis to visit Georgia in 1999. The invitation was accepted.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greece gets health loan from EIB for the first time

    Greece and the European Investment Bank (EIB) yesterday signed an agreement for the country to receive a 24 billion drachma loan, its first from EIB for the health sector.

    The accord, signed by National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas and EIB vice chairman Panagiotis Gennimatas, will provide supplementary financing for the European Union Community Support Framework's (CSF) Health- Welfare programme in Greece.

    Part of the funds will be used to complete construction of 15 new hospitals in the country's regions, enabling them to open sooner, the ministry said in a statement.

    The remainder is to help develop information technology in the health and welfare sector, build or modernise intensive care units, and bolster funding for emergency medical services.

    The CSF's Health-Welfare programme in Greece aims at:

    • The development of an informatics system for all the country's hospitals
    • The establishment of a national blood-donation centre (infrastructure and equipment).
    • The establishment of a national public health system as an independent control and protection agency, which will include a national school of public health, a national health centre, and central and regional public health laboratories.
    • New buildings for EKAB state ambulance services in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion (Crete), Larissa and Alexandroupolis.
    • Modernisation and reinforcement of EKAB's equipment (helicopters, radio network, new mobile units), with emphasis on the transport of patients from isolated regions such as the islands and mountain villages.
    • Creation of a national centre for emergency social assistance in order to improve the quality of life for persons with special needs.

    Mr. Pachtas said in the statement that the government also wanted to develop flexible structures that could provide specialised and high quality services incorporating modern technology.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Athens: Indirect route for EU funding to Turkey legally groundless

    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 yesterday.

    Mr. 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.

    Despite efforts by its EU partners to persuade Greece to lift its veto, Athens has insisted on adherence to decisions taken at last December's summit in Luxembourg, when Turkey was told that its EU candidacy would depend on whether it improved its human rights record and relations with Athens.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Demirel: 'We must learn to live with our differences'

    ISTANBUL (ANA - A. Kourkoulas) P Turkish President Suleyman Demirel told a group of Turkish deputies constituting a Greek-Turkish parliamentary friendship group that "Turkey and Greece have succeeded in maintaining peace, despite the fact that certain iss ues emanating from Greece are creating tension in relations."

    Mr. Demirel, who received the group of deputies, headed by Democratic Left Party (DSP) deputy Hakan Tartan in Ankara, said that differences exist between Greece and Turkey, but what is important is that "we must learn to live with our differences and tr y to resolve them." He further said that "conflict is the last thing which we could conceive," adding that "a solution to our differences with talks is the most appropriate course."

    Mr. Demirel said that "the two countries must learn to live together" and that "a boisterous policy is exercised in Greece and politicians who favour a peaceful solution to differences are criticised."

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Pangalos: No progress made in Greek-Turkish relations at recent summit

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said on Thursday that Greece and Turkey did not move after a meeting of their prime ministers in the recent summit of SE European leaders in Antalya, Turkey.

    "There was no shifting of positions whatsover in the positions Mr. (Mesut) Yilmaz put to Mr. (Costas) Simitis, calling once again for dialogue on all issues between the two countries," he said during a televised interview.

    He added that the Greek premier pointed out that dialogue had been attempted many times in the past but without results, and called on Turkey to recognise the obligatory jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, as all the countries of the EU, which Turkey wishes to join, have done.

    Referring to Cyprus, he said the issue manifested the conflict between modes of logic: One maintained by the Greek Cypriot majority and shared by a large number of Turkish Cypriots, which holds that the two communities despite all their problems can live together. The other, held by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Ankara reject this logic, wishing to impede any contact, religious, cultural or economic between the two sides.

    Referring to domestic political issues, Mr. Pangalos expressed certainty that the recently re-elected mayor of Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos, would found a centrist party in the future instead of vying for the leadership of the New Democracy party, and described him as a Greek version of Sylvio Berlusconi. Mr. Avramopoulos had beaten Mr. Pangalos during the 1994 mayoral race in Athens.

    The Greek foreign minister revealed that he had proposed Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos as a candidate for mayor of Thessaloniki, Environment Minister Costas Laliotis for Piraeus and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou for Athens. He said the only one who discussed the possibility was his alternate, but the other two "did not want to enter the battle. I did go into that battle, and suffered the consequences for a long time."

    Responding to scenarios of a possible government reshuffle, Mr. Pangalos described the present government as the best of recent decades, "even better than all the governments of Andreas Papandreou."

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Naval exercise in Aegean

    The naval exercise "Astrapi '98" (lightning) is set to begin on Tuesday in the central and eastern regions of the Aerean.

    Surface ships, submarines, helicopters and naval support aircraft will participate in the exercise, which will conclude on Oct. 22. Athens News Agency

    [08] Greek units to participate in Cypriot military exercise

    NICOSIA (ANA) - Greek air and naval forces will take part in the six-day Cypriot National Guard exercise, codenamed "Ni-kiforos", which begins on Tuesday.

    Details of the exercise were announced to reporters in Nicosia yesterday by the chief of Cyprus' National Guard, Brig.-Gen. Panayiotis Tatsiopoulos.

    Brig.-Gen. 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.

    All the National Guard's modern weapon systems will be used in "Nikiforos", which will be conducted in three main stages. The scenario includes a search and rescue mission 50 nautical miles from Paphos as well as a National Guard parachute jump.

    Under an imaginary scenario, National Guard positions will come under fire from enemy lines. Brig.-Gen. Tatsiopoulos said the main exercise will take place in the southeastern district of Larnaca with the use of live ammunition.

    Replying to reporters' questions, the military official did not rule out the possibility of Hellenic Air Force jet fighters landing at Paphos Air Base during the course of the exercise.

    Four Greek F-16 fighters and a C-130 transport plane briefly stopped over at the air base in June this year within the framework of the defence pact, prompting criticism from both Turkey and the United States.

    Turkey at the time described the stopover as "a very worrying and provocative development aimed at damaging peace and stability on the island".

    Nicosia said it was "grotesque" that a guarantor country which violated the unity of the Cyprus state and had been an occupation force since 1974 should lecture Cyprus on sovereign rights and defence agreements based on international law.

    The US State Department claimed that the landing of Greek military aircraft at Paphos air base raised tension on the island.

    The governments of Greece and Cyprus agreed upon a joint defence pact in November 1993, providing for Greek air, sea and land cover in case of a new Turkish offensive against Cyprus.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greek-German Chamber of Commerce offer

    The Greek-German Chamber of Commerce offers the ability to buy entrance cards and catalogs for all German expos it represents in Greece.

    "BRAU 98", the international beer and beverages expo and one of the largest in its kind in Europe,will be the next one to be represented in Greece by the Greek-German Chamber and it is taking place in Nuremburg from Nov. 11- 13.

    For more information, interested parties should contact the offices of the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce in Athens at tel: (01) 6444502 and in Thessaloniki at tel: (031) 327733.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Revolutionary figures Ferraios, Solomos honoured with coin editions

    A draft presidential decree provides for the issuing of new commemorative 50-drachma coins, marking Parliament's declaration of 1998 as Year of revolutionary figure Rhigas Ferraios and national poet Dionysios Solomos.

    Ferraios, the visionary of Balkan unity, died in the hands of Ottoman executioners in Belgrade 200 years ago.

    Solomos was born in the same year in Corfu, and his "Ode to Liberty" provided the lyrics for Greece's national anthem, composed by Nikolaos Matzaros.

    The coins will circulate in five million pieces, 2.5 million bearing the portraits of Ferraios and Solomos each.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] More heliports on Aegean isles

    The Aegean ministry yesterday said several projects are either completed or underway to modernise or construct heliports on various isolated Aegean islands.

    According to the ministry, problems that until last year hampered or completely stopped operations on 20 island heliports (Agios Efstratios, Psara, Oinouses, Fournoi, Ikaria, Koufonisi, Folegandros, Amorgos, Agathonisi, Halki, Symi, Patmos, Leipsi, Tilo s, Kea, Ios, Kythnos, Siphnos, Andros, Tinos and western Lesvos) were overcome, while an additional 600 million is being allocated by the ministry for the construction of new heliports on seven more Aegean islands.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Taiwan backs Straits Exchange Foundation, Association for Relations Across Taiwan Strait meeting

    The Taiwan economic & cultural office in Athens stated that a meeting between the leaders of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) holds profound significance for the positive development and interaction of cross-strait relations in the future.

    A press release by the office claimed that in June 1995 Beijing unilaterally suspended cross-strait consultations, bringing cross-strait relations to a new low.

    In February 1998, Beijing finally expressed their consent to resume communications and consultations in an official letter to Taipei. Since then, the SEF and the ARATS have made considerable progress in improving cross-strait communications and in raisi ng the level of personnel for exchange visits, the press release reads.

    SEF and ARATS agreed that SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu will visit the People's Republic of China on Oct. 14-19 and meet ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan, the press release concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Fiber-optics network along rail lines in SE Europe approved

    The SE European railways general directors' 14th regular assembly yesterday concluded in Belgrade.

    The assembly decided to approve Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) general director Ioannis Mourmouris' proposal to install a fiber-optics network parallel to rail lines.

    The assembly relegated management of the network's construction to OSE.

    Countries that belong to the International Railways Union (UIC) include Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Cache of ancient coins confiscated by police

    Athens police yesterday arrested a 50-year-old businessman after finding more than 1,000 ancient coins and a number of artifacts in his home.

    Members of an antiquities smuggling police unit 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 district.

    They also confiscated 46 bronze, lead, iron and ceramic artifacts dating to the Byzantine, Hellenistic and post-Roman eras.

    The man told police he had inherited the antiquities from his father, who came from Istanbul and imported the coins and artifacts to Greece gradually over a number of years.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Conference on space techniques for Mediterranean environmental management

    A conference on space techniques for environmental management in the Mediterranean will be held in Athens next week with the participation of scientists active in environmental and space research.

    The conference, organised by EURISY in cooperation with the Spa-ce Research and Technology Commission of Greece, aims at a review of current and future developments in space applications in the Mediterranean and the extent of possible positive consequen ces on the environment.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] 60 Kurdish illegals detained

    Police in Thessaloniki arrested a group of 60 illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin yesterday. The Kurds were found living on a construction site in the northern capital. Police said they were brought into the country by a gang of illegal immigrant smuggle rs and would probably have spread out throughout Greece seeking work. All of the illegals were detained pending deportation.
    Athens News Agency

    [17] Fischler: Compensation possible for natural disaster-related farm losses

    Compensation for farmers who suffered crop losses from to natural disasters (heatwave, floods, fires etc) is possible and depends on the volition and handling of the Greek government, according to EU Commissioner Franz Fischler.

    He responding to a question by New Democracy party Eurodeputy Costis Hatzidakis, made on the occasion of last July's unprecedented heatwave that harmed farmers on Crete and primarily those involved in viticulture.

    Mr. Fischler said that a series of regulations exists through which the possibility is provided for the payment of subsidies to fruit and vegetable producers in the event of natural disasters and the amount of which is based on the average theoretical p roduction price set in the market over the past three years.

    Mr. Hatzidakis said that from now on compensation for farmers depends exclusively on the agriculture ministry and the government's volition. The Commission merely indicates the way with which such subsidies can be paid.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Greek stocks surge in active trade, following markets abroad

    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 yesterday for the first time in 11 sessions.

    The general index surged 6.37 percent to end at 2,040.47 points in heavy turnover of 69.4 billion drachmas. Volume was 15,534,000 shares.

    The heavily weighted banking sector led the advance with a 7.92 percent rise.

    Other sectors also jumped. Leasing and Industrials ended at 7.46 and 6.0 percent respectively. Insurance was 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, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index jumped 6.72 percent to 1,222.26 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 234 to 20 with another 8 issues unchanged.

    Strintzis Lines, Mytilineos, Hellenic Petroleum, Teletypos and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Forty-three shares hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up. Among them were Commercial Bank of Greece, Ergobank, Ionian Bank, Alpha Credit Bank, Teletypos, Altek, Atticat, Mytilineos and Hellenic Duty Free Shops.

    Elfico, Lanakam, Athina, Mouzakis, Hadzioannou, Etma, Sportsman and Papoutsanis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 36,140 drachmas, Ergobank at 23,544, Alpha Credit Bank at 20,304, Ionian Bank at 10,260, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,470, Delta Dairy at 3,245, Intracom at 9,950, Titan Cement at 17,460, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,445 and Minoan Lines at 5,530 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Domestic money, bond markets welcome US rate cut

    Domestic money and debt markets yesterday reacted positively to the reduction in US interest rates by 0.25 basis points, a move paving the way to a solution for a global financial crisis that has battered markets worldwide.

    Domestic interbank rates fell slightly, and state securities rebounded in the secondary market.

    In the domestic foreign exchange market bankers reported inflows totalling 110 million DMark.

    The drachma was higher against most foreign currencies at the day's fixing.

    The US dollar was fixed at 277.78 drachmas, down from 282.37 drachmas on Thursday.

    The Ecu/drachma rate eased to 338.94 drachmas and the DMark/drachma fell to 172 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Gov't to include indirect tax cuts in 1999 budget

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the government would lower indirect taxes in the 1999 budget as part of its drive to bring consumer price inflation below 2.0 percent at the end of 1999.

    "We will aim at bringing inflation to 2.0 percent by the end of 1999 with all the means at our disposal," Mr. Papantoniou told reporters.

    He said the measures included cuts in indirect taxes, but declined to discuss how much the government would lower Value Added Tax on goods and services.

    Mr. Papantoniou was speaking after a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos at which he presented his final draft of the 1999 budget. The new budget, which is to be studied by gover nment departments next week, will be sent to parliament well before the November 30 constitutional deadline, the minister said.

    A final decision on the budget will be taken by the inner cabinet on October 23, according to government sources.

    Bringing down inflation is the focus of the government's economic policy, which aims to take Greece into European economic and monetary union by January 1, 2001. The government, which intends to battle inflation through a strict incomes and monetary pol icy by means of the budget, has already secured price cuts this year by agreement with retailers and a pledge to virtually freeze prices in a range of foodstuffs and household goods in 1999.

    Mr. Papantoniou said the drive to lower prices led by the development ministry was so far very successful, and he called on businesses to comply with the promises they had made.

    The minister also repeated that rates for public utilities would be frozen in 1999, further aiding the fight against inflation.

    According to sources, the prime minister has given the green light to Mr. Papantoniou's proposals.

    The same sources said the most probable scenario in the budget was to lower VAT on the Public Power Corporation's electricity bills from the current 18 percent, instead of easing VAT on pharmaceuticals and water utility bills from 8.0 percent to 5.0 per cent.

    Mr. Papantoniou's proposals also include lowering a consumer tax on vehicles.

    The sources said that the basic principles of the new budget were:

    • containing consumer spending in the public sector and eliminating wastefulness
    • pursuing the same direct tax policy
    • lowering indirect taxes to combat inflation
    • continuing the drive to stamp out tax evasion
    • increasing public investment spending to cover the needs of the 2nd Community Support Framework, which will enter its final year of implementation.

    The general government deficit in 1999 will be less than 2.0 percent of gross domestic product, a projection meeting the 2.1 percent target endorsed by the EU in Greece's economic convergence plan.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] New Democracy says gov't tax cut pledge is to pull votes

    The government's pledge to reduce indirect taxes is aimed at attracting votes in this month's local elections, the main opposition New Democracy party's press spokesman said yesterday.

    Spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said in a statement that the tax cuts and a reduction or freeze in retail prices agreed with businesses to lower inflation were tricks to pull voters ahead of the second round of elections on Sunday.

    "The Greek public showed in last Sunday's polls, and will do so again this Sunday, that it is no longer influenced by this kind of political trick," Mr. Spiliotopoulos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Vernicos Yachts sets up new firm

    Vernicos Yachts, a yacht charter company listed on the bourse's parallel market for small cap companies, yesterday announced it had set up a new firm called Thalassa-Vernicos A. Hellas to offer a full range of speed, fishing and inflatable craft in Greece .

    Vernicos Yachts said in a statement that the new company had forged exclusive deals with domestic and foreign shipyards, and made useful alliances.

    The statement said that Thalassa-Vernicos A. Hellas combined the organisation, strength and credibility of Vernicos Yachts and the experience of A. Hellas, a company owned by the Angelopoulos family, a pioneer in boat building since 1967.

    George Vernicos, chairman of Vernicos Yachts, said the boat building sector had faced major difficulties in past years that had scaled back domestic production.

    "We are at the beginning of a new era and we believe that the new company will see rising sales in the coming years, successfully covering a sector unknown to the company," Mr. Vernicos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] One in four Greek businesses checked found tax dodging

    One in four Greek businesses audited by the government's financial crimes squad are involved in the national pastime of tax evasion, according to figures for September released by the finance ministry yesterday.

    The ministry 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 engineers, entertainers and public notaries had a 67.93 percent rate for infringements of the tax code.

    The special task force investigating the tax records of high profile self- employed professionals found a 100 percent infringement rate.

    For companies with turnover of over two billion drachmas annually, the infringement rate was 41.9 percent.

    Among nightclubs, 29.5 percent subjected to the squad's attentions were found to be evading taxes by not issuing tickets while 42.9 percent of hotels checked had also violated the tax code.

    Businesses in tourist areas had an infringement rate of 40.54 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Athens bourse picks up steam aided by rate declines

    Falling interest rates in domestic and international markets restored confidence in stock markets, helping the Athens bourse to breach the 2,000- point barrier at the end of a robust week.

    The market rebounded spectacularly during the last three sessions to sprint through the 1,800, 1,900 and 2,000 levels following the Bank of Greece's reduction early in the week of its intervention rate by 25 basis points.

    Also aiding the market was a decision by the US Federal Reserve to ease its short-term interest rates by 25 basis points for the second time in less than a month on Thursday.

    Dimitris Karagounis, president of the Greek Shareholders' Union, said that an upturn in the last three sessions was due to bargain hunting as share prices fell to very attractive levels; lower interest rates abroad; and a key message sent by the governm ent that it was determined to lead the country into European economic and monetary union by 2001, regardless of the political cost.

    The Athens general index ended 268.38 points, or 15.14 percent higher, on the week, to stand 37.90 percent higher than the beginning of the year.

    However, it remained 27.78 percent off its record peak of July 21.

    Turnover totalled 197.9 billion drachmas to post a daily average of 39.6 billion drachmas, up from 35 billion drachmas the previous week.

    Sector indices scored major gains. Leasing was 29.56 pct higher, Banks rose 18.72 pct, Miscellaneous ended 15.43 pct up, Holding increased 14.04 pct, Industrials rose 13.89 pct, Construction ended 13.48 pct up, Investment rose 12.05 pct and Insurance ed ged 5.74 pct higher.

    The parallel market index for small cap stocks rose 12.13 pct, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index ended 16.16 pct higher.

    Shrugging off an international financial crisis, several listed companies announced higher results for the first nine months of 1998.

    Average corporate earnings in the first half of the year increased by 20 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange to total of 647 billion drachmas, up from 540 billion in the same period in 1997.

    The drachma's devaluation by 13.8 percent in March hit profits in several sectors although companies were able easily to get over losses in the first half of 1998.

    Analysts expect listed companies' profits to total 1.5 trillion drachmas in 1998, up from 1.1 trillion last year.

    Investment firms reported the highest percentage profit rise by 113 pct in the first six months of the year, while Leasing suffered the heaviest percentage losses at 60 pct. The profits of information technology firms increased by 60 pct, while Banks' rose by 21 pct.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Alpha Credit lending rates

    Alpha Credit Bank yesterday announced that as of Oct. 19 the minimum lending rate for currency with the Alpha 605 account will be for the US dollar 7.55 per cent, the Ecu 6.35 per cent, the German mark 5.75 per cent, the Japanese yen 2.60 per cent, the Sw iss franc 3.45 per cent, the Italian lire 7.15 per cent, the English pound sterling 9.65 per cent, the French franc 5.75 per cent and the Belgian franc 5.90 per cent.
    Athens News Agency

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