Setting up shop to be made cheaper and faster The government is studying ways of reducing the cost of starting new firms and the red tape involved, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said. «Greece is one of the most expensive countries as regards the cost of setting up new enterprises, even though the time it takes to complete the entire process is comparatively shorter than in other EU members,» he told a press briefing. He said a decree setting out the details should be ready around June, after consultations with the Economy Ministry. Greece, Tsochadzopoulos said, ranks third in the EU as regards the time it takes to complete business start-up procedures, with an average time of 15 days, compared to the UK’s seven days and Ireland’s eight; the EU average is 24. The aim is to bring Greece’s average down to seven days, as well as the high average cost of 1,700 euros, which is only second to Austria’s 2,230 euros; the EU average is 830 euros. Tsochadzopoulos said the ministry is also preparing a revision of bankruptcy law. «The aim is to increase flexibility and give a second chance;» final adjudication of proceedings will be targeted within six months. Turkey agrees to purchase AWACS planes from Boeing ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey has agreed to buy four AWACS aircraft from Boeing to boost its radar surveillance capabilities, a US official said yesterday. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed off Monday on the purchase of the planes valued at between $1.1 and 1.2 billion, the official said on condition of anonymity. Turkish and US officials have been negotiating the sale since 2001. The Turkish newspapers Milliyet and Hurriyet reported that Turkey would receive its first AWACS plane in four years and that the others would later be assembled in Turkey. Middle East Greece views Lebanon as a gateway to business opportunities in the Middle East and the Gulf region, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos told a press briefing in Thessaloniki on the organizing of the 2nd Balkan and Black Sea Entrepreneurial Parternariat, scheduled for November. But he added, «As the Greek government, we would not hasten to recommend deals in the framework of the coalition that conducted the war.» Minimum salaries The government has set minimum salary terms and conditions for categories of workers who cannot sign collective labor agreements due to the lack of employers’ and union bodies in their vocations. The minimum starting monthly salary of privately employed graduate vets and biologists is set at 709.20 euros; staff of private kindergarten stations are given a basic monthly of 580 euros; other minimum rates are set for Greek employees of foreign embassies and social workers; all salaries are complemented by varying rates of bonuses for each three-year period in employment, foreign languages, graduate degrees, hazardous occupation, and family and child allowances. The rates are applicable retroactively from January 1, 2003. Enlargement The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) will act as national coordinator for an EU campaign to disseminate information on business opportunities in the 10 new member states. The campaign, which starts this month and will last for a year, will involve 200 European Information Centers for Enterprises in 26 countries.