Workers’ and civil servants’ unions come closer to merger The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), the main umbrella labor union body, and the civil servants’ union ADEDY yesterday agreed to set up a National Trade Union Council early next year and on a five-year timetable for their merger. The council will shape a joint strategy on issues of employment, social policy, development and the environment. The two issues are to be debated at a special congress on Friday, which will also discuss the final name of the new body so that it covers a broader spectrum of working people. The two sides also agreed to work toward joint participation in peace movements and an initiative during the EU summit in Thessaloniki in June 2003. Offshore property transfers to be made easier by provision in tax bill The Finance Ministry is preparing to include a provision in its tax bill enabling offshore company owners to transfer real-estate property in Greece to relatives without having to prove how they acquired the property and at half the tax rate previously required, sources say. The government has already announced a 3 percent tax on property owned by offshore companies as of next year, except for those leased to shipping firms as offices and depos. According to another provision in the bill, the 10 percent tax envisaged on income earned from leasing accommodation to visitors to the Olympic Games in 2004 is extended to the other Olympic cities in Greece apart from Athens. General Bank General Bank, with a capitalization of 124 million euros, yesterday reported group losses of 9.4 million euros in the nine months to September, against a profit of 8.7 million in the same period last year. The development is largely attributed to provisions of 13.3 million for bad debts, 50.9 percent higher than in the same period last year. Operating expenses also rose 20.8 percent to 83.9 million on account of an expansion in the branch network to 105. Interest income was 3.29 percent higher at 62.4 million and net commission income 14.4 percent higher at 27 million euros. Assets stood at 2.9 billion euros, loans rose 27.9 percent to 1.8 billion euros and deposits were up 16.41 percent to 2.2 billion euros. Promota Promotion gift firm Promota Hellas has set up a wholly owned subsidiary in the USA (Promota International Inc), where its plans include the distribution of promotional clothing made by its Bulgarian subsidiary, also recently set up, and the creation of a chain of bargain stores. The group is also considering opening a gift production arm in Shenzhen, China. The US arm plans a roadshow for investors in New York in January. Piraeus Bank Piraeus Bank has assigned to Info-Quest a project for an integrated human resources management system (HRMS), which covers hirings, training and development, evaluation, skills management, pay and benefits. Beauty parlors Slimming and beauty centers are projected to see their turnover rise 10 percent in the next two years, after an average annual rate of growth of 11 percent in the last three years, according to a sectoral study by business research firm ICAP.