ECONOMY

In Brief

Ambitious vocational training program until 2004 The government plans to spend 678 billion drachmas for vocational and continuing training until 2004, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said after meeting his ministers of Labor and Social Security Tasos Yiannitsis and Education Petros Efthymiou yesterday. Our aim is the training of 600,000 workers for the acquisition of skills throughout their working life, to make the finding of jobs easier. The fight against unemployment is continuous, he said. He added that the government was considering proposals for a unified system of education, training and employment, involving the setting up of a National Vocational Training Council and a system for forecasting vocational market requirements. The funds comprise 188 billion drachmas for technical schools, 90 billion for initial education and training and 400 billion for continuing training. H1 trade deficit falls by 100 million euros Greece’s trade deficit fell by 100 million euros in the first half compared to the same period in 2000, according to data published by Eurostat in Brussels yesterday. The trade deficit receded from 9.2 billion euros to 9.1 billion, the third highest among the 15 EU members after the UK and Spain. Exports fell by 10 percent, from 5.9 billion to 5.3 billion euros, and imports were 5 percent lower, from 15.1 billion to 14.4 billion euros. The largest surplus in the same period was that of Germany, 39.5 billion euros, followed by Ireland’s, 17.5 billion euros. The total trade deficit of the 15 fell from 5 billion last year to 1.6 billion euros this year, but the eurozone increased its surplus from 5.5 billion to 7.8 billion euros. Writs for stock manipulation. Athens investigating judge Constantina Bourboulia is preparing to issue writs in connection with allegations of fraud and manipulation of the share prices of Athens Capital Holdings (ACH) and Ethniki Real Estate (ERE), sources said yesterday. The ERE case involves its president Minos Kyriakou, also main shareholder of NYSE-listed Antenna TV, and prominent businessmen Evangelos Mytilinaios and Andreas Korasidis. Bourboulias is also expected to call the president of Intersat and former construction baron, Giorgos Batatoudis, for additional depositions in connection with charges of violation of stock market legislation. Ports Exhibition. Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis and European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO) Secretary-General Patrick Verhoeven yesterday attended the inauguration of the Ports 2001 International Exhibition at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus. Over 50 Greek and foreign authorities are participating. The exhibition, which runs until Saturday (open between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.), also hosts the international conference EuroMare 2001, which ends today. IT exhibition. The 15th Infosystem Exhibition is to be held at Helexpo’s installations in Thessaloniki, from October 11-14, and will host the IT Applications Conference on October 12 and 13. It will be preceded by the International Conference for Image Processing (ICIP 2001) at Macedonia Palace Hotel, October 7 through 10. DRY CARGO