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Staff writer

Most years, workers in the financial industry can relax between the completion of the working year and the end of their New Year’s holiday. But not this year.

A total of 270,000 financial sector personnel will be in their offices to handle any Y2K computer problems between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3, the Financial Supervisory Agency said Tuesday.

These workers will come from 1,500 institutions — banks, small community-based lenders, insurance companies, brokerages and investment trust firms — each of which will deploy an average of 178 workers to cope with possible Y2K glitches. The nation’s 19 major banks, including two long-term credit banks that are temporarily under state control, plan to have an average of 2,130 employees on duty.

One of their tasks will be to check whether computers are working normally on Jan. 1, 2000 — the day the last two digits of the year turn from 99 to 00, which a confused computer might recognize as 1900.

Financial regulators will also have to remain sober. Up to 20 FSA officials are destined to forgo New Year’s drinks, together with 20-plus officials at local finance bureaus throughout the country. Between Dec. 31 and Jan. 4, they will be required to be alert around the clock.

And any members of the media laughing at the misfortune of others might not be so pleased to hear that they, too, are not immune from Y2K concerns.

The FSA is considering how to inform reporters — some of whom will have to be standing by the phone at home during the New Year holiday season — about any Y2K-related problems.

A rare news conference on New Year’s Day cannot be ruled out should a financial disaster happen, although surely no one is hoping for that dreaded call.

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