ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t considers allowing school fee hikes despite inflation worries The Development Ministry is studying an internal report recommending that certain categories of private schools be allowed to raise fees by up to 8 percent for the next school year. In recent years, the ministry has refused to allow increases in excess of the inflation rate, although a number of schools have ignored the limit. In a statement yesterday, the ministry said various proposals are still at discussion stage and do not constitute «final decisions.» Meanwhile, five multinational subsidiaries have filed for approval by the Development Ministry for price hikes ranging between 1.8 and 10.25 percent for more than 40 household and personal care products. Ministry records also say the prices of 23 of the 26 fresh fruit and vegetable varieties it is monitoring have risen «substantially» since the beginning of the year. The prices of most such products have risen by more than 30 percent, it said. The National Statistics Service said the General Index of Producer Prices was higher by 3.5 percent in February, year-on-year. Experts expect inflation to drop slightly in March Consumer inflation, among the highest in the eurozone, is seen cooling off slightly in March helped by some moderation in energy costs. Economists said yesterday they expected the headline year-on-year inflation rate to ease to around 4 percent from February’s peak of 4.3 percent. «We expect a small drop of around 0.3 percentage points on an annual basis due to favorable base effects in petrol prices while there is still further pressure from fruit and vegetable prices,» said Dimitris Maroulis, an economist at Alpha Bank. The National Statistics Service is due to release March headline and EU-harmonized data today. (Reuters) Epathlon Three national sponsors for the 2004 Olympic Games, OTE Telecom, subsidiary CosmOTE and Alpha Bank, yesterday presented their joint customer loyalty scheme, based on the «Athens 2004 Visa» credit card and accompanied by a program of rewards, «Epathlon.» The holder is credited with points – worth one euro each – when using the card and these may be exchanged for a wide variety of goods and services, including gasoline and travel. Landfills Environment and Town Planning Minister Vasso Papandreou told Attica deputies and mayors yesterday she will soon introduce legislation establishing three new waste landfills and 18 reloading stations in the region, and with provisions for other areas in the country. Two landfills will be picked from sites in Keratea, Koropi, Grammatiko and Polydendri in eastern Attica and one from sites in Phyli – near the present landfill – Mandra and Megara in western Attica, on the basis of environmental effect studies. «The problem is urgent and we must attend to it immediately,» she said. The designation of landfill sites has long been a source of squabbles among local authorities and nearly half of them are operated illegally. Shipping British Ambassador Sir David Madden and Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis will open the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce’s conference, «The Future of Greek Shipping-An International Perspective,» starting at 8.30 p.m. on Friday, on the MTS Triton, Piraeus.