ECONOMY

In Brief

Banking ombudsman receives more complaints in first quarter The most common complaints to the banking ombudsman in the first quarter of 2003 concerned the non-application of a directive for limiting the liability of the owner of a lost or stolen credit card to 150 euros, charges for deposit accounts falling below a certain amount, charges for mortgage and consumer loans being repaid too early and administrative charges for approving loans. The number of telephone calls to the banking ombudsman rose 24 percent compared to the same period last year and written complaints rose by 11.6 percent. Eighty-eight percent of cases considered ended in compromises that favored bank customers. Engineers enjoy higher pay, lower joblessness Unemployment among graduate engineers of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) is only 2 percent, against 7.5 percent among graduates of other tertiary education establishments and 5.7 percent of those with postgraduate degrees, according to a study of the Manpower Organization’s (OAED) employment monitor. The study, which is hampered by being based on 1998 data, divides graduates into «young» (1991-95) and «old» (1976-90). Both categories enjoy relatively high annual incomes. The «young» earn an average of 13,200 euros and the «old» 19,000 euros. And 89 percent of «young» engineers found jobs within six months, while the average time for electrical engineers was two months. Tourism Crete, Santorini, Myconos and Corfu are the most popular summer tourist destinations for Athenians, according to a study by Hospitality & Tourism, based on a sample of 295 people. The region of Pelion in central Greece is the most popular in winter. Regarding foreign destinations, 30.1 percent said they had visited Italy, 20.6 percent France, 18.3 percent the UK, 13.5 percent Spain, 12.2 percent Austria, 11.1 percent the USA, 9.8 percent Germany, 8.1 percent the Netherlands, 7.7 percent the Czech Republic and 5 percent Thailand. Inflation Greece’s inflation rate fell to 3.9 percent in March from 4.2 percent in February, and was the second highest in the EU, according to Eurostat’s monthly bulletin released in Brussels yesterday. Ireland had 4.9 percent and Portugal, 3.8 percent. Greece also had the second highest average inflation over the last 12 months, 3.8 percent, along with Portugal, while the lowest was Germany’s 1.1 percent. Industrial subsidies The government expects the European Commission to approve a proposal for new rates of investment subsidies for planned industrial parks that were privatized when Piraeus Bank acquired a majority interest in the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) last year. Approval will release 60 million euros under the EU-sponsored Competitiveness Program that remain undisbursed after the European Commission ruled that when privatized, the industrial parks could not receive the same amount of subsidies. Forthnet Ferry operator Minoan Lines notified the Athens bourse it plans to sell its 21.13 percent stake in Internet and telecoms provider Forthnet as part of a drive to reduce debt. In March, Minoan sold one of its ferries for $67 million to reduce debt.