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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 19:10 GMT

World: Americas

Clinton: Y2K will not bug US

President Clinton: Previously set curbs for Y2K law suits

President Clinton says the US should escape any Year 2000 computer glitch-related breakdowns in key economic and infrastructure areas - including the accidental detonation of nuclear bombs.

But officials warned that people should prepare for the millennium bug by bringing home extra food and water supplies.
Bugtown UK
Mr Clinton, speaking at the White House on Year 2000 conversion, said the federal government's computers were well-prepared for the date change and that the US would not experience any major national breakdowns.

"When it comes to financial services, power, telecommunications, air and rail travel, leading organisations report they have completed nearly all of they Y2K work," he said.

"I am confident the Y2K problem, therefore, will not put the savings or the safety of the American people at risk.

The millennium bug is caused by the abbreviated dates that have been used in computer programmes - for instance, identifying a year as "99" rather than "1999".


But Mr Clinton also sounded a note of caution. He said some areas, such as small businesses and local government, had been slower to address the problem.

In the latest quarterly report on Y2K readiness, a survey of 2,700 "911" emergency call centres found only half were prepared for the computer glitch.

He called for more contingency planning in such areas.

[ image: President Clinton and Mr Koskinen: Pleased to announce no major breakdowns]
President Clinton and Mr Koskinen: Pleased to announce no major breakdowns
To prepare for possible problems at emergency call centres, John Koskinen, head of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, encouraged people to have at hand a list of direct numbers for the police, the fire department and ambulance services.

Americans have been encouraged to prepare for problems at a local level, such as stocking up on drinking water in case treatment plants encounter problems.

But experts have warned against stockpiling of supplies, arguing that a run on such items as food and petrol could cause more problems than the threat of Y2K failures.

However, Mr Koskinen said people should prepare for the date rollover as they would for a winter storm by topping off prescriptions and buying a three-day supply of food and water.

He also suggested that people contact manufacturers to find if their home electronics are Y2K compliant and that people should save financial records before and after 1 January, 2000.

The Federal Reserve has estimated each US household will withdraw an average of $500 in the days leading up to 1 January 2000. But there is a risk that the public could panic at the last minute and withdraw hoards of cash from bank accounts.

Mr Clinton said the US still had some concerns about the Y2K readiness of some developing counties, which he did not name.

In June, the White House and Congress agreed on legislation aimed at reining in lawsuits arising from Y2K-related problems.

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