ECONOMY

In Brief

SEV takes issue with tax inspections, gov’t urged to go gently with new system Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, the chairman of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), urged the government to eliminate from accounting standards ambivalent points that gave tax officials discretionary powers. «When a tax official comes to a firm to inspect the books, he targets raising additional taxes, giving rise to suggestions of kickbacks… There is no firm without accounting differences; this does not mean everyone is incompetent or a fraudster, but that the system is inadequate,» he told Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee, which discussed the draft bill on the introduction of International Accounting Standards (IAS). He suggested the situation might be improved if inspections were abolished and corporate tax was raised to 36 from 35 percent instead. Responding, Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis said that tax officials acted under no instructions to boost revenue collection and that 90 percent of inspections concerned non-payment of VAT received from third parties. Kyriakopoulos further suggested that tax inspection be conducted by chartered auditors, which would boost transparency and confidence among investors. Christos Alamanos, chairman of chartered auditors, cautioned that the draft clause forbidding the hiring of their firms for more than two consecutive years will create great confusion. Kyriakopoulos said such a system would also be costly despite its positive aspects, and urged the government to leave the taxation regime unchanged for some years, as enterprises will have to learn to operate under the series of new legislation recently introduced. The draft bill contains a provision leaving open the possibility of the application of IAS being postponed for fiscal year 2004. OTE under fire for overly high prices for new Internet connecting service OTE Telecom has reportedly received thousands of complaints from Internet users, businesses and alternate landline operators that its prices for the new XDSL service, which secures up to 10 times faster access to the Internet, is far too costly to allow them any reasonable profit margins. Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis has called a meeting with the heads of OTE and the National Post and Telecommunications Commission (EETT) at noon today to discuss the issue. Shipbuilding Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis yesterday announced the setting up of Piraeus Shipbuilding and Repair Zone (NAZOPEI) SA, as part of an overhaul of the industry in the area and its legal status. The plan will involve the city’s Port Authority (OLP), local authorities, unions and the Labor Ministry in an effort to improve the industry’s growth prospects. OLP will hold 51 percent of the new company’s share capital. Telestet Telestet mobile operator will double the amount of one-euro donations that will be made by customers to Doctors Without Borders. Donations, made by sending the message «DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS» in Greek to the number 2010, started last night and will end on Sunday night. For more information call 693.223.9366 or 210.615.8367. Proton Proton Bank’s Select Capital Guarantee investment scheme offers 0.50 percent interest plus 70 percent of mutual fund profits after two years.