ECONOMY

In Brief

CosmOTE reports hefty growth in customer numbers Mobile operator CosmOTE reported a 20 percent rise in the number of customers to 3.85 million in the second quarter of 2003, retaining first place. The company said in a press release that most new customers were prepaying and that corporate customers accounted for the majority of new contracts. CosmOTE’s Bulgarian subsidiary Globul signed up 119 percent more customers in the same period, bringing the total to 638,000, and its AMC arm in Albania boosted its base 56 percent to 560,720. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s Cosmofon subsidiary signed up 20,000 customers in its first three weeks of operation. Use of natural gas extended to broad number of applications The use of natural gas is being expanded considerably, according to amended provisions in a Development Ministry draft bill tabled in Parliament yesterday. These include the compulsory use of natural gas in departments and agencies of the wider public sector in all new residential or office buildings in areas that the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) plans to supply in the near future and in all manufacturing and industrial facilities. Further, residents of apartment blocks may decide by simple majority, rather than unanimously as hitherto required, to substitute natural gas for diesel in central heating systems. Heracles The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) said recent layoffs by cement company Heracles were arbitrary, unjustified and contrary to commitments by the firm. It warned of more dismissals, mainly of administrative staff, and called on the Labor Ministry to hold a tripartite meeting with management and workers for satisfactory solutions to be found. Thessaloniki hotels Thessaloniki hoteliers feel discriminated against. «The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) found the money to co-fund the production of a new series of nail varnishes that will bear the names of Greek islands and B category hotels in Athens will receive 30 million euros in public subsidies for refurbishment in view of the Olympic Games,» said the chairman of the city’s Bureau of Conferences and Visitors, Vassilis Brovas. The subsidy also applies to hotels in four Greek Olympic cities, including Thessaloniki, «but Athens 2004 (the organizers) found not one hotel in these cities to their liking and so all funds are being distributed among Athens hotels,» he added. He also said the bureau submitted to GNTO three plans for developing Thessaloniki’s conference tourism but officials «evade contact with various ridiculous excuses.» Civil servants Public servants are to receive pay raises of between 3.5 and 6 percent next year, sources said, as negotiations with the Finance Ministry continued yesterday. The most favored branches are said to be teachers, doctors and hospital nursing staff. Customer service Representatives of more than 40 big Greek companies attended the first meeting of the Hellenic Institute of Customer Service at the Athens University of Economics and Business, which is the co-sponsor, along with business consultant firm Response.