In Brief

CSF programs to be made more attractive for commercial firms Commercial enterprises will have more opportunities for investment subsidies in the second half of the year, after a revision of the EU’s Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) in July, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos told a conference on the subject. His deputy, Christos Theodorou, said small and very small firms display reluctance to participate in CSFIII – despite opportunities to do so – and that participation will be facilitated through a draft bill which will be tabled in May. The chairman of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), Christos Folias, complained that a trader today consumed one-sixth of his/her time to meet red-tape requirements. He claimed that the economy’s high growth rates (4 percent in 2002) were deceptive and would have to be 7-8 percent to be «real»; Folias also said the number of self-employed traders had fallen sharply in recent years. Other traders’ representatives complained of inadequately staffed CSFIII services, limited time for submitting documents and complex procedures; also, they stated their interest in investing in storage facilities and technological improvements. Gov’t seeks unions’ consent on private power plants Labor unions of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) reportedly gave an initially unfavorable reaction to strong pressure by Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, who is seeking their consent to a draft bill on the creation of four private electric power plants, totaling a capacity of 1,600 MW. Christodoulakis and Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos met over the issue with labor union chief Christos Polyzogopoulos and ruling PASOK party-affiliated union leaders on Thursday. The unionists reportedly feel the plan does not promote market liberalization but favors specific investors. A further meeting has been scheduled for after Easter. Bourse Mining company Silver & Baryte is fully in agreement with the Athens bourse’s recent decision to transfer its listing from the category of mines and quarries to non-metallic minerals and cement, it said in a statement. The new category reflects more accurately the breadth of its activities, as the company now focuses on the processing of ores, as shown by the analysis of its sales, it said. Separately, the bourse has also decided to list the shares of Nikos Gallis (hotels and resorts), Kekrops (real estate) and Vernikos Holdings (rental services) to a new category, named «Low Productive Activity,» based on the criterion of a turnover lower than 3 million euros – on account of which they have been under supervision since March 6, 2003. Porto Carras The Casino Commission has reportedly given the green light to the reopening of the Porto Carras casino in the northern resort region of Halkidiki. The facility, the first private casino which opened in 1995, has remained closed for more than two years due to a dispute over the operating license. This is now owned by construction company Technical Olympic.