ECONOMY

In Brief

Reppas enters with ‘a little gift’ for labor New Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas was heard saying yesterday that he has a little gift for the trade unions in forthcoming talks over social security reform, the hottest potato the government has in its hands over the medium term. During his introduction to the ministry, he said his assumption of the post has the character of a mission which is constantly under pressure to provide proof of the government’s labor-friendly policies. He committed himself to substantive and sincere dialogue, with heart and mind in the community of labor. But outgoing Deputy Social Security Minister Nikos Farmakis did not hide his opinion of reactions from fellow ministers, which caused the withdrawal of reform proposals earlier this year. He said they ran like rabbits when the first shot was fired. Papandreou wants Greece to open its labor market to Hungarians Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday he wants Greece to open its labor market to Hungarians as soon as possible following Hungary’s accession to the European Union. I think this will dispel beliefs by some other EU members, he said, referring to concerns by Austria and Germany that workers from EU candidate countries will flood member states once they join the 15-member bloc. Hungary has developed a very strong European path and they are the frontrunners of the enlargement process, Papandreou told reporters after meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi. (Reuters) EFG Eurobank picks Fundtech. Fundtech Ltd., a US provider of electronic payments and cash management solutions, announced yesterday that EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA, the third largest private-sector bank in Greece, has licensed Fundtech’s PAYplus RTGS platform to enhance its payment automation and provide automatic payment initiation facilities to its more than 330 branches and 8,000 employees. The deal will enable Eurobank to draw on proven, next-generation electronic payment technology and support for the Greek RTGS network (HERMES) and the transition to the European single currency as of January 1. Fundtech’s PAYplus RTGS will allow us to maintain our increased business and attract new corporate customers while reducing excessive manual operations and laying the groundwork for a standard payments platform, said Lia Petralia, Payment Services Manager of EFG Eurobank Ergasias. (Business Wire) Railways head resigns. Transport Minister Christos Verelis yesterday accepted the resignation of Hellenic Railways (OSE) Managing Director Costas Papadimitriou. The resignation is linked to pressure for renegotiation of a 170 billion drachma contract for rolling stock with Hellenic Shipyards, in the framework of the acquisition of a controlling stake in the latter by Germany’s HDW Ferrostaal. Sources say more board members are preparing to resign. Meanwhile, sources said that according to a plan prepared by the Labor Ministry, the voluntary exit of 465 Hellenic Shipyards workers as part of a streamlining effort will cost the taxpayer 18.8 billion drachmas. Bond yields, a crucial indicator of the cost of managing Turkey’s domestic debt load, fell again as optimism about the arrival of foreign cash continued.