Construction sector keeps growing, number of firms projected to fall The Greek public works industry had a total turnover of more than 5.58 billion euros in 2001, up from 4.5 billion in 2000, Stat Bank data shows. Investment in fixed capital in 2001 reached 1.87 billion euros. According to a study by the Construction Economy Institute (IOK), the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product in 2000 was 16.5 percent (projected to reach 20.7 percent in 2004). In the same year, the sector employed 290,000 workers, or 7.5 percent of the total. This rises to 14 percent if those in associated trades are counted in. IOK estimates the number of construction workers will have risen to 350,000 by 2006. Industry sources say that the recent wave of mergers, which has led to just 15 groups applying to be listed in the top-size (seventh) class, is likely to continue in coming years because companies are still considerably smaller than elsewhere in Europe and because the Greek market is too small for all 759 firms in the top five classes to survive. Tourism bookings down for now but outlook better, says minister Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said Greek tourism would only be affected by the current situation in Iraq and the market would pick up as normal in summer. «Bookings are down now and for April, but are at normal levels for May and June,» he said, adding that additional advertising has been lined up to start in mid-April. Separately, Greek tourism officials who visited the ongoing tourism fair in Moscow said the number of Russian tourists to Greece would probably go up this year. Tourism Panorama opens at the Piraeus Port Authority’s (OLP) exhibition center today, lasting till Monday. The Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) blamed the government for the lack of planning, promotion and marketing of Greek tourism. Bulgarian insurance Bulgarian insurance company DZI reported an 11 percent rise in 2002 net premium revenue from the previous year and a rise in net profit, keeping its No. 1 ranking among local insurers. The former state insurer, privatized last year and bought by local private Roseximbank, had net premium revenue of 115 million levs ($63.2 million) in 2002, which was some 19 percent of the Balkan country’s insurance market, DZI said in a statement. DZI’s main competitors on the local market of 28 insurers are foreign majors such as Allianz and AIG Life as well as Bulstrad, controlled by Dutch-based TBI Holding. Insurance is still underdeveloped in post-communist Bulgaria, a country of 8 million where the average monthly wage is some $140. DZI raised its net profit to 3.7 million levs last year. This compared with 1 million lev net in 2001. (Reuters) CMC fines The Capital Market Commission imposed fines totaling 200,000 euros on Vorioelladiki Securities, offshore company Melten Enterprises and Constantinos Manos for engineering transactions in the share of IT firm LogicDis during seven months in 2000 and 2001 that resulted in the spreading of inaccurate and misleading information. Silver & Baryte Greece’s biggest mining firm, Silver & Baryte (A&B), has obtained one of the first «new-type,» broader licences granted by the Chinese government to foreign firms. A&B has been active in China since 1996.