ECONOMY

In Brief

EU and OAED agree on agency’s restructuring plan in 2003 European Commission, Labor Ministry and Manpower Organization (OAED) officials yesterday agreed on a plan to restructure the state employment agency in 2003, in line with scheduled commitments designed to permit the more individualized treatment of the jobless. OAED employment promotion programs are projected to absorb about 1.5 billion euros of EU funds, and the Commission is also anxious to ensure that individual files of the jobless contain detailed and reliable data. OEAD Director Yiannis Nikolaou acknowledged that there have been delays but the agency dismissed in a statement as unjustified suggestions that the absorption of funds was in danger due to the agency’s failed attempts to restructure. Moody’s cautions on long-term Greek economic prospects Greek social insurance spending remains low but is projected to record an explosive growth in coming decades if appropriate measures are not adopted, according to Sarah Bertin, analyst of credit rating agency Moody’s, which upgraded Greece from A2 to A1 a few weeks ago. She told Kathimerini the country needs to achieve bigger primary surpluses to reduce public debt. Besides the pension system, sources of concern in the medium-term include an inflation rate higher than the EU average, which undermines competitiveness and the large current account deficit, «Greeks spend more than they produce,» she said. Carrefour Zinon Properties, a joint venture of EFG Eurobank Properties and Deutsche Bank’s Real Estate Opportunities Group (REOG), has bought 16 supermarkets of the Carrefour and Champion Marinopoulos chains in Greece, in a 63-million-euro sale and leaseback deal, the biggest ever in the country, a statement said. Under the deal, the chains will lease the properties from the buyer for 15-20 years. Eurobank Properties estimates the annual yield of the investment will be around 8.5 percent. REOG’s Dimitris Raptis said an intensifying rate of liquidation of real estate holdings by public and private corporations is expected in Greece in the next two years. Expatriates The Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) yesterday announced a plan, backed by the Foreign, Economy and Development ministries, designed to bring closer expatriate and home-based businesses. The plan includes the creation of a database of expatriate-owned firms and visits to Greece, the first of which is projected for November 2003. Participants include the Hellenic Center for Investment, the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE). Cement stocks A Schroder Salomon Smith Barney report recommends buying Greek and selling Portuguese cement stocks, saying that current prices do not reflect trends in the two countries’ construction markets which are projected to cause a respective rise and fall in cement sales. EIB The European Investment Bank (EIB) is holding a briefing conference on «Finance in the Balkans and the Mediterranean» on the sidelines of the Money Show 2002 at Thessaloniki’s Hyatt Hotel, at 1 p.m. on Saturday.