ECONOMY

In Brief

Issue over State privilege to be considered by highest courts The issue of whether standing legislation – which allows the State to pay only 6 percent interest on overdue payments to citizens when it charges 11.25 percent on overdue sums owed to it by the populace – is constitutional, is likely to be considered by the Special High Court, after the Supreme Court recently ruled that the practice did not violate the principle of proportionality. A court in the northern city of Ioannina last week, however, ruled that the practice was illegal, in line with a dissenting Supreme Court justice who expressed the opinion that it violated the European Convention of Human Rights and the property of the lender. The issue will now have to be referred to the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, and possibly to the Special High Court in coming months. Michaniki group profits up 9.5 pct in nine months The Michaniki construction company yesterday posted group nine-month profit growth before tax and after minorities of 9.5 percent to 9.24 million euros year-on-year. Turnover was up 26.1 percent to 86.47 million euros from 68.54 million in the same period of 2001, Michaniki said in a statement. The parent company’s pretax profit rose 80.4 percent to 6.39 million euros year-on-year, from a turnover of 50.88 million euros, up 56.7 from the January-September 2001 period. Michaniki said the improved results were due to the significant increase in the number of new projects undertaken. It is currently participating in five Olympic projects, on three segments of the Egnatia Highway in northern Greece and the new bridge over the Corinth Canal (budgeted at 10.7 million euros), while it is about to sign the contract for the Olympic basketball, handball and fencing center in Hellenikon, budgeted at 63.1 million euros. The total value of the company’s backlog of work is now more than double than for the whole of 2001, at 271 million, which is almost evenly split between public and self-financed projects. Eurobank EFG Eurobank Ergasias will retain the name as its corporate and legal title but all branches will bear the name «Eurobank,» a statement said. The bank also announced a series of organizational changes, made possible by the application of a single technological platform throughout the network. According to the new structure, implemented with the help of Boston Consulting Group, the retail banking sector of the bank, headed by Deputy Managing Director Vyron Ballis, will consist of two types of branches, the «universal» and the «standard,» the difference being that the former, besides ordinary individual clients, will also serve corporate clients of larger size, with an annual turnover of up to 2.5 million euros. The corporate banking division, part of the wholesale division headed by Nikos Karamouzis, will consist of 35-40 branches catering to the bigger corporate clients. Small projects The Panhellenic Public Project Contractors’ Association (PESEDE) today is beginning an indefinite abstention from all auctions of public projects in protest against debts totaling 150 million euros for municipal projects carried out throughout the country since May. «The State seems to be interested only in the so-called large projects or those related to the Olympic Games,» said PESEDE Chairman Constantinos Katsoulas.