Gov’t hopes for funding approval of all CSFIII projects by end of 2003 Greece has a high absorption rate of European Union investment subsidies of the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) for the 2001-2006 period, and the only danger of losing such funds is inadequate planning and non-fulfillment of the specifications set by the EU, Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas said. He admitted continuing difficulties in this field, due to the lack of experience and specialized professionals in the regional authorities overseeing the projects. Pachtas announced a plan to hire 500 such professionals. He said emphasis will be given to programs for small and medium-sized enterprises, the Information Society and agriculture. All CSFIII programs will have been activated by year-end, and funding will have been approved for some 10,000 projects, representing 50 percent of the 50-billion-euro budget. The ministry hopes funding approval for all projects will be in place by the end of 2003. Greek presidency to place emphasis on growth and employment The Greek presidency of the EU in the first half of 2003 will put priority on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, environmental protection, and boosting growth, employment and social cohesion, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said after a ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. «We discussed preparations… with a view to promoting European growth, employment, market liberalization and a series of other issues related to forming a strong European advantage for growth so that Europe may not trail the US or Japan in economic developments,» he said. Nine-month results Several firms announced nine-month results yesterday. Greece’s biggest construction group Hellenic Technodomiki, which includes Aktor, reported 110 percent pretax profit growth after minorities year-on-year to 73.8 million euros. Turnover rose 27.49 percent to 522.24 million euros. Ferry operator group Attica Holdings, which includes Strintzis Lines, said pretax profit rose 44.6 percent to 15.3 million euros, while revenues increased 25.7 percent to 246.7 million euros. Snacks and croissant maker Chipita said group net earnings after minorities rose 0.7 percent to 5.55 million euros on sales growth of 6.2 percent to 153.2 million. Sales by subsidiary Chipita East Europe in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia rose 10.7 percent to 58.8 million euros. Egnatia Bank said pretax profit rose 1.12 percent to 28.5 million euros, due mainly to lower dividends from subsidiaries. Pharmaceuticals maker Lavipharm reported a 21.8 percent rise in pretax profit after minorities to 4.7 million euros. Mutual funds Three Eurobank mutual funds have been certified by Standard & Poor’s as regards Credit Quality Rating and Volatility Rating, the bank said in a statement. The three are Bond Fund, International Corporate Bond Fund and Domestic Money Market Plus Fund. Assessment criteria include ability and experience of managers, fund performance in depth of time and internal auditing procedures, the bank said. NBG National Bank of Greece yesterday opened its second Yugoslav branch, in the Zemun area of Belgrade. NBG plans to open three more branches in Serbia by Christmas and to have 15 branches in place in the country within a year’s time.