ECONOMY

Bank uses ‘Euroraces’ to help public crack the euro

Euroraces, a game for children aged 9 to 99 as Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos put it yesterday, will be Greece’s unique contribution to the Europe-wide publicity effort to familiarize citizens with the new common currency. Euro bills and coins will circulate on January 1, 2002, and will entirely replace drachmas and the national currencies of 11 other states on March 1. Euro coins and notes will be printed in all eurozone member countries. In Greece, a total of 617 million notes will be printed, but will not include the 200-euro and 500-euro denominations (equivalent to 68,150 drachmas and 170, 375 drachmas respectively) since Greeks are unused to such large denominations. Other countries, including Portugal, will also not print the highest denominations. However, these larger notes will still be legal tender. A presentation of the new euro notes yesterday by the Bank of Greece was notable for the efforts made to ensure that counterfeiters will be caught. There are dozens of ways to verify whether the note is counterfeit or not. some will be known to the public, others to cashiers of banks, and still others only to central banks and state authorities, Papademos said. On Tuesday, Papademos met with the Hellenic Banks’ Association to discuss issues relating to circulation. Papademos told reporters yesterday that, in order to ensure a smoother transition to the new currency, the public should use liquid cash less in the period up to the euro’s introduction. This period, however, coincides with the high-spending Christmas shopping period. Papademos also advised the public to convert their drachma accounts into euros ahead of the New Year, when they will be automatically converted. Transport Minister Christos Verelis last month predicted that talks with Axon would end early this month.