ECONOMY

In Brief

Calls for private investment to prevent power shortages «Greece is likely to face a power supply problem in coming years if new power plants are not put into operation,» EU Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said. «Banks hesitate to finance new productive capacity without conditions of legal and economic stability and predictability in relation to, among others, fuel prices,» she noted. The country’s installed capacity, now about 11,000 MW, will have to rise about 50 percent by 2010 and a further 26 percent by 2020, the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) says in its «Long-term Energy Planning for Greece in the Period 2001-2010.» The agency argues that the cheapest medium-term option is provided by Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) technology, which depends on a competitive price for gas, which is of strategic importance, and a deregulated market structure. RAE projects that NGCC plants will provide about 70 percent of new capacity this decade. The adequate supply of gas and the dependence of the transport sector on imported fuels are two factors of uncertainty. Shipowners want government to help to meet higher costs Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told ferry operators yesterday that their request for hikes in the lowest fares, in line with cost increases, was untimely when inflation is showing dangerous signs of being rekindled. But he promised the government will examine shipowners’ cost data and did not rule out reducing VAT on charges for ferrying private cars from 18 percent to 8 percent. Sources said Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis wants the Economy Ministry to subsidize on-the-job training for officers and to look into again assuming the major part of employers’ social security contributions for low-rank seamen, as part of a second part of measures that oceangoing shipowners expect will sharpen Greek competitiveness in the industry. Christodoulakis and Anomeritis are due to meet today. Greece-Turkey Greece and Turkey are expected to sign a protocol of economic cooperation today in Ankara, but this will not include an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, which has stalled, it transpired yesterday. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, Greece will not accept the Turkish demand for the exemption of profits from merchant shipping from any such deal and a further meeting of ministers will take up the issue in Athens shortly. Greece is also keen to reduce the imbalance in bilateral trade, where its exports have amounted to 57 percent of imports from Turkey in the last two years. Ship sale Minoan Lines has sold its Ariadni Palace I to Italy’s SIME Tre SpA, a subsidiary of Corsica Sardinia Ferries, for $67 million. The company said in a statement that the sale is part of its drive to reduce debt and boost liquidity. Shipping agent Aghios Nikolaos Shipping Services will be the first Greek shipping agency in China, based in Shanghai, on the basis of a joint venture signed with Chinopec. Exchange Foreign exchange bureaus Kappa Change still buy the now-withdrawn former currencies of EU countries, as well as those of third countries that no Greek bank buys or sells.