ECONOMY

Much still to learn about the euro

With only 38 days left before the introduction of euro notes and coins, the government is scrambling to get its information campaign going. Participants at a meeting yesterday, attended by Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Deputy Minister Giorgos Floridis and top ministry officials, agreed that many things remained to be done in a short time span to adequately inform the public about the change in currency. Drachma notes and coins will be withdrawn from circulation at the end of February, giving the public barely two months to come to grips with the new currency. The government is considering several options on informing the public, many of whom are baffled by the notion of the currency change. Among the proposals considered are special information kiosks to be set up in squares, street markets and other places where large numbers of people congregate; TV games, preferably with cash prizes; and a three-digit number that would not only provide basic information about the euro but also answers specific questions about conversion. Economy and Finance Ministry officials are worried that delays in implementing the information campaign will end up costing the state more than originally provided for. Several state organizations put off their advertising campaigns to wait for the publication of information and special guides by newspapers. On the plus side, the government has convinced most producers and retailers not to take advantage of the transition period by raising prices; in addition, the Bank of Greece has been active with its own campaign, such as leaflets and even children’s games. The commission approved the draft, which now must go before the full assembly for voting.