ECONOMY

In Brief

Interest rate hike condemned as abuse of dominant market position Alpha Bank’s 2 percent hike in mortgage and personal loan rates on Monday was not justified on any economic grounds, Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Floridis told a Net Radio interview. The move amounts to an attempt to adulterate competition and to an abuse of dominant market position, and for this reason the government has referred the case to the Competition Commission, the regulatory watchdog, he said. The Central Union of Chambers of Greece (KEEE) urged the government to exercise pressure on banks to prevent any further interest rate rises. «Repercussions would be dire for both consumers and firms,» said KEEE Chairman Giorgos Kasimatis. He called on banks to realize that interest rates paid by consumers and small enterprises already amount to more than five times the inflation rate, and any further rises would be inconceivable when a rate reduction is expected in the eurozone. «Banks’ tactics are disastrous for the country’s economic and social fiber,» he said. Meanwhile, the Competition Commission, which has asked Alpha to explain the reasons for the rate hike in the next 15 days, denied a charge by opposition deputy Stephanos Manos that it had acted on instructions from the government. Draft regulation aims to protect European air carriers The current Greek presidency of the EU is preparing a draft regulation designed to protect European air transport carriers from unfair competition from third countries, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said. The measure will provide for levies on third-country carriers subsidized by their own governments. Listed firms The Athens Stock Exchange Listed Companies Association (SEISET) is promoting the setting up of a Pan-European Council of Listed Companies for joint action on stock market issues and better representation in European bodies. SEISET President Ion Steriotis reported interest from counterpart bodies in the UK, Germany and France and is planning an event in Athens on May 29 and 30 to which representatives from 10 countries will be invited. Greece-Turkey The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) and Thessaloniki’s Chamber of Commerce are holding a three-day event in the city’s Macedonia Palace Hotel tomorrow, Friday and Saturday on the promotion of Greek-Turkish business cooperation. Senior officials and business leaders will attend. A 14-member business delegation from Valencia, Spain, is also expected in Thessaloniki between February 25 and 28. For more info, contact the Spanish Embassy, tel 210.7246980. Hilton The Athens Hilton Hotel has reopened for business, as the extension and renovation work has entered its final phase. When completed, the Hilton will have 74 more rooms in a new wing, bringing the total to 517, and extensive conference and business facilities. The hotel is owned by Alpha Bank. Space Hellas IT firm Space Hellas has won a tender for a study on the security for the electronic network of the European Vocational Training Development Center (CEDEFOP).