ECONOMY

In Brief

Role of e-business still unclear to most Greeks The exact nature of e-business remains unclear to most Greeks, and is quite often confused with e-commerce, said contributors to the Greek Association of Advertising Companies’ (EEDE) conference on «The New Business Environment: Opportunities for Businesses and Management» in Thessaloniki last week. For e-business to succeed, there are three main requirements, the organizers said in a press release yesterday. First, the firm must adopt an overall view for the change, mainly as regards its way of doing business, strategic commitment and personnel training; second, the government must set rules and incentives, and third, education must cultivate the appropriate public awareness of e-business. Important elements for the efficiency of e-business are the networking of a firm’s internal administrative processes and that of its personnel. 1.45-million-euro defense order set for approval next week Greece will approve next week the purchase of about 30 NH90 helicopters built by Eurocopter, worth around 750 million euros, and 12 Apache choppers from Boeing, worth another 700 million euros, a defense source told Reuters yesterday. The source said the decisions will be announced during next week’s defense procurements committee meeting. Britain’s Vosper Thornycroft will also be awarded a 420-million-euro contract to build a frigate for the Greek navy jointly with Greek Elefsina Shipyards the source said. Greece has slated 11.7 billion euros for defense spending in 2001-2004. It has also earmarked another 4.98 billion euros for 60 Eurofighter Typhoon jets but the purchase has been postponed until after 2004. (Reuters) Unclean bill of health The total debt of hospitals to suppliers of pharmaceuticals and hospital and medical equipment soared to about 900 million euros in the last 12 months, suppliers’ representatives said yesterday. One of the biggest debtors is the Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Technology (IFET) which is accused of inequitable treatment of certain suppliers who now intend to protest to the Health Ministry and contest payments legally overdue. Hospitals, in turn, blame the social insurance funds for delays in reimbursing their share of the cost. The situation is described as grave as regards a number of expensive and indispensable drugs for serious diseases. According to EU Directive 2000/35, hospitals have to pay suppliers within 60 days of receiving the invoice, otherwise they are liable to fines or paid interest on the debt. Natural gas Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis yesterday held talks in Athens with President George W. Bush’s special envoy on energy issues in the Caucasus region, Stephen Mann. The meeting focused on the role of Greece’s six-month EU presidency, beginning in January, on such issues, particularly the planned transfer of natural gas by pipeline to Europe. The project involves cooperation with Turkey. The two sides agreed to maintain frequent contact. Heracles Cement producer Heracles said yesterday group nine-month pretax profit fell 13.4 percent year-on-year to 49.6 million euros – its bottom line – hurt by voluntary retirement costs. Heracles, 53.1 percent owned by France’s Lafarge, said nine-month sales rose 3.3 percent to 427 million euros. (Reuters)