CBI warns firms of millennium chaos

SUPERMARKET cash tills may not work, car-park barriers could get stuck, accounting programmes could add up to 100 years extra interest to bank accounts, traffic lights may fail and time locks and security devices may block access if computers are not fully prepared for the start of the new century, Peter Agar, the deputy-director-general of the CBI will warn business today.

Just one unprepared company in a supermarket supply chain could mean the food not reaching the shelves on time, said Mr Agar.

The millennium time-bomb will affect all companies, but there are common solutions to the problem and companies can learn from one another. To stimulate companies to act now the CBI has produced a brief which outlines what four leading UK companies, Sainsbury, Rover, GRE and Yorkshire Electricity, have done to get ready for the year 2000.

Robin Guenier, the former chief executive of the Government's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, and now executive director of Taskforce 2000, is calling on the Government to use its position as current President of the European Union to press EU countries to postpone of monetary union. "It is increasingly obvious that inadequate time and resources are making it impossible to deal with EMU and year 2000 computer projects at the same time," Mr Guenier said.

But City economists polled by The Independent last week were virtually unanimous that the point of no return has already been passed.

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