Gov’t to consider power rate hike, unions oppose private operators plan The government said yesterday it is not bound to immediately approve the Public Power Corporation’s (PPC) demand on Tuesday for a 4 percent increase in electricity rates as of July 4, and that the final decision will be «of a political nature.» «The demand does not mean acceptance and does not mean PPC will get what it seeks. We shall review the facts, annual data, costs and whether the adjustment is ultimately justified,» said Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos – an answer indicating that the government will consider longstanding objections by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) regarding PPC’s cost data. He also said any hike will not retroactively apply as of July 1. Earlier, PPC’s labor union denounced the State for its plan to exclude the corporation – still a virtual monopoly – from tenders for supplementary power production designed to ensure sufficient capacity for the nation’s grid. The union is also reacting to the provision for private power exports and imports and called a 24-hour strike on July 3, while its members will start working to rule today. Officials claimed that the plan for private operators in the industry will ultimately burden the consumer with higher prices. Tsochadzopoulos said «PPC’s present capacity will be insufficient next year» and that he would soon unveil a medium-term power energy plan until 2007. Banks report stronger demand for loans after lifting of ceilings The recent lifting of ceilings on consumer and personal credit by the Bank of Greece has led to a rise in the demand for large loans, mostly for the refinancing of older liabilities, banking circles say. Encouraged by low rates, bank clients are reportedly filing a large number of applications for loans of more than 30,000 euros. Banks see the practice as risky and likely to lead to higher provision costs, particularly given that the electronic individual credit-rating system (Tiresias), to be formally launched on July 1, is seen as needing at least two years to become effective – the time estimated as required for banks to collect enough data. So far, only four banks have reportedly begun feeding the system with data. Some, however, argue the higher demand for loans is bound to boost bank profits. ICAP Business research company ICAP has made its business data bank available free of charge to all Greek embassies and consulates abroad, as a contribution to efforts for export promotion and attract foreign investment, the firm said in a statement. The facility includes data on thousands of Greek firms and products, and the possibility of access to sectoral studies. EU-Balkans Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos tomorrow will chair in Thessaloniki an EU ministerial conference on the adoption of an EU-Balkan action plan for cooperation in research and technological development. Today he is due to sign on behalf of the EU agreements for scientific and technological cooperation with Tunisia and Morocco. Under supervision The Athens bourse has placed metallic products firm Daring in the «under supervision» category. The company reported a first-quarter loss of 644,635 euros, citing lower demand due to adverse weather conditions and more expensive raw materials.