ECONOMY

In Brief

Finance Ministry wants to be friends with entrepreneurs The Finance Ministry is planning to introduce specific criteria for tax inspections, simplify procedures and rationalize the maze of local government taxes, Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis said at the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. He said there will be a complete separation of those conducting inspections from those evaluating their results «so as to eliminate the various temptations in the process today.» The setting up of a committee of friendly, out-of-court settlements for tax disputes will be aimed at «ridding us of the multitude of tax litigations or despair to which firms are driven to,» he said. Fotiadis predicted that reducing enterprises’ social security contributions would likely be one factor in competition among EU member states in lowering labor costs to attract investment in the future. FYROM reports difficulties in resolving OKTA dispute The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) Finance Ministry reported difficulties in ongoing negotiations to resolve a dispute regarding the terms of operation of the country’s largest oil refinery OKTA and Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum, which holds a majority interest. «The Greek side did not accept the government’s proposals for a revision of certain dispute issues,» said a statement on Saturday. According to Skopje press reports, the apple of discord remains OKTA’s privileged tariff treatment in the importation of fuels. Other reports said if talks break down, the issue may be referred to international arbitration in a Paris court. On a recent visit to Skopje, Greek Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos indicated a willingness to compromise. Black Sea Thessaloniki-based Black Sea Trade & Development Bank (BSTDB), which is sponsored by 11 member states in Southeastern Europe, will sign on June 2 a protocol of cooperation with the European Union and seven other international credit institutions, including the European Investment Bank, EBRD and the World Bank’s IFC. The protocol will provide for the funding of projects in member countries that are in preaccession negotiations with the EU, that is, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. Athens Airport Athens International Airport has emerged top in «total passenger satisfaction» in the world among airports with maximum annual passenger traffic of under 15 million, according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) survey for 2002 Global Airport Monitor. The survey said the specific category is the most competitive, as it includes the largest number of airports. Tax-free bonds Public subscription for a second series of tax-free government one-year bonds started yesterday and ends on Friday. The bonds carry an interest rate of 3.6 percent but interest will be taxed at 10 percent if they are liquidated before maturity. Investors may subscribe for a maximum of 15,000 euros. SVVE The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) has received the Greek Standardization Organization’s (ELOT) certificate EN ISO 9001: 2000 for its services to members and management of human resources. It also holds the ISO 2002 quality certificate.