Gov’t in doubtful efforts to prevent closure of Schiesser Pallas plant Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas said yesterday efforts will continue to prevent the closure of Swiss company Schiesser Pallas’s Greek garment factory, announced on Monday, which will mean layoffs of more than 500 workers, mainly women over 40. He told a delegation of workers that the ministry is discussing with the firm alternative proposals for improving its competitiveness but noted that the phenomenon of labor-intensive firms relocating to neighboring countries (Bulgaria in this case) was very widespread. He pledged that if the efforts bear no fruit, the government will adopt measures to support the jobless workers. Schiesser’s other Greek subsidiary, Palco, a commercial concern, said its operations will not be affected by the closure of the manufacturing unit and it plans to increase its personnel from 70 to 100 in the next two years. The main opposition New Democracy party accused the government in a press release of doing nothing to reverse the dramatic decline in the Greek economy’s competitiveness by eliminating investment counterincentives, reforming taxation and cutting red tape. Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Tuesday the government is studying a revision of investment incentives. Papastratos sees better future after Philip Morris takeover Greece’s biggest cigarette maker Papastratos stands to benefit from its acquisition by Philip Morris, the company’s chairman, Christos Komninos, told shareholders yesterday. According to a deal announced on Tuesday, the US tobacco group will pay around 370 million euros for a 75 percent share in Papastratos. Komninos said the firm preferred the option of coming under the umbrella of a world giant, due to its inability to resort to acquisitions itself. He said that according to the deal, the Papastratos brand name will continue to exist, and that the factory will continue to operate as long as Greek smokers prefer its cigarettes. The acquisition, which will take up to six months to be completed, requires the approval of the European Union’s Competition Committee. Copyrights For the first time in 13 years, Greece has officially been removed from a «watch list» of the Office of the United States Trade Representative – a specialized agency of the US government which monitors the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) legislation around the world, a US Embassy press release said. In its annual «Special 301» report, the agency said Greece has made «significant» progress in protecting IPR laws and in stopping the broadcast of unlicensed films; nevertheless, it pointed out that problems remain, particularly in the audiovisual and software sector. Industry and tourism The government plans to look into the interconnection between the sectors of tourism and industry with a view to improving their competitiveness, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said. «We are interested in looking into what it means for the Greek economy as a whole to have 12-14 million tourists, in what way it affects the country’s industrial production and other sectors,» he said. A process of dialogue will be launched in the next four months, he added.