ECONOMY

In Brief

Simitis sees uncertainty affecting economic relations with Turkey The present moment is realistically not the best for the assumption of joint Greek-Turkish business initiatives, given the economic and political uncertainty and high inflation in the neighboring country, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said during a session of the National Competitiveness Council (ESA) yesterday. He said Greek enterprises feared that any deterioration in Greek-Turkish relations would have a negative impact on them. Part of Simitis’s talks with the leader of Turkey’s new governing party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Athens on Monday concerned economic cooperation. Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) Chairman Odysseas Kyriakopoulos told the same session that the country’s laws deterred foreign investment and undermined competitiveness. He said Greece could have been Europe’s biggest gold producer were it not for the deterring impact of the legal framework on foreign investment in mining. Citing examples of the uncompetitiveness of Greek industry, he said the bedsheets and towels ordered for the Olympic Games of 2004 will be imported. «Competitiveness is meaningless unless there is a comparison with what other countries do,» he said. SEV proposes to submit a quarterly report to the prime minister and that besides social partners, ESA include senior Development Ministry officials Bank of Cyprus posts halved nine-month profit NICOSIA (Reuters) – The Bank of Cyprus reported a 51.9 percent fall in pretax profit in the first nine months yesterday, but said that quarter-on-quarter results significantly improved. Pretax earnings at Cyprus’s largest financial institution fell to 29.4 million Cypriot pounds from 61.07 million in the corresponding period of 2001, due largely to an increase in provisions for bad and doubtful debts, it said. After-tax group profit fell 56.2 percent to 18 million. The bank said the nine-month period carried the full impact of the reduction in interest rates and the adverse effects on the global and Cypriot economy. Operations in Greece made an important contribution to overall profits. Pretax profit generated by the Greek operations rose 22.6 percent to 15.3 million pounds in the first nine months. On a quarterly basis, the bank said profit before bad debt and investment revaluations rose 29.2 percent to 27.7 million pounds. The quarter-on-quarter improvement reflected an expansion of the group’s operations mainly in Greece, the containment of operating costs and improvements on its net interest margin, the bank said. Happy callers Greeks appear among the most satisfied users of mobile telephony services, according to the results of a European study in seven countries in 2001, presented by the Foundation of Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). The Portuguese and Irish also appear highly satisfied but Icelanders and Danes are the least happy. Russians and Swedes fall in between. Greeks also give high marks to the quality of mobile services and money value. Bourse links The Athens Stock Exchange on Monday held a presentation of possible technical alternatives for a linking of the bourse with those of Istanbul and Tel Aviv, which will permit cross-transactions. Participants in the presentation were Intarget, GL/Money Line, Reuters, Foreks, Bloomberg, Profile and Forthnet.