Total debt grows, but mortgage and consumer credit slow down Credit expansion to businesses and households rose slightly to 19.0 percent on an annual basis from 18.3 percent in September, bringing total private debt to 83.9 billion euros, or 60 percent of GDP, against 82.6 billion in the previous month. Credit to the public sector was down 6.5 percent year-on-year. However, mortgages were up 40 percent year-on-year in October – from 41.5 percent the previous month – with outstanding balances of mortgages standing at 19.9 billion euros, or 14.2 percent of GDP. Expansion of consumer loans slowed down faster, with outstanding balances standing at 9.4 billion euros, 27.7 percent up year-on-year, against 29.7 percent in September. Credit card balances stood 37.9-percent higher in October, from 33.1 percent in September. Greek EU presidency to focus on energy issues The Greek EU presidency’s policy on industrial and trade issues during the first half of 2003 will focus on five priorities: The introduction of new technologies, the strengthening of the role of small and medium-sized enterprises, the further liberalization of markets, the promotion of a common approach on the future of European tourism and the conditions for ensuring cheap, adequate and clean energy supplies, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday. He said particular emphasis will be placed on the integration of the single energy market, as this is the most crucial sector for the competitiveness of European industry vis-a-vis the USA. Taxes More than half of taxpayers were exempt from taxes on their 2001 incomes, according to the Finance Ministry. Of 4.90 million taxpayers, only 2.37 million stood above the tax-free threshold; 1.96 million filed their declarations in the Attica region, where the average annual declared income was 4.82 million drachmas (14,145 euros). The average Greek declared income was 4.05 million drachmas (11,880 euros). Coke Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (Coca-Cola HBC) said yesterday it has purchased jointly with The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) a 94.5-percent stake in Dorna Apemin, Romania’s leading producer of sparkling natural mineral water. Dorna Apemin holds almost 13 percent of the mineral water market in Romania with total sales of approximately 90 million liters. Coca-Cola HBC operates in 26 countries and is one of the largest bottlers of non-alcoholic beverages in Europe and the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world by sales volume. Pouliades Pouliades IT group subsidiary Quality & Reliability (Q&R) has acquired 35 percent of Hungary’s IT firm Revolution, as part of an expansion drive abroad, according to a statement. Q&R aims at promoting its business management software products in Hungary, one of the most promising markets in Eastern Europe. Revolution’s projected turnover in 2003 is 2 million euros. Budget Parliament yesterday began discussion of the 2003 budget, which will last five days. The plenum will take a vote at midnight on Sunday. Tax shutdown Public tax office employees will strike on December 27, 30 and 31, in protest against personnel transfers.