Hoteliers urge gov’t to restore fixed asset depreciation rates The Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX) yesterday urged the government not to further lower accounting depreciation rates for the fixed assets of hotels in legislation being prepared, and said it would hold Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis personally responsible for a further deterioration in the competitiveness of Greek tourism. POX complained in a press release that the Finance Ministry was preparing to arbitrarily set maximum and minimum depreciation rates of 4 and 2 percent respectively, despite Christodoulakis’s promise to set up a special committee on the matter. It called the prospect irrational and said it expected the maximum rate to be restored to 8 percent after its surprise halving last year; «the only logical explanation is that the ministry puts the interest of a handful of listed firms that wish to show higher profits before the thousands of hotel businesses struggling to modernize and remain competitive,» said POX. Government aims for ombudsman to extend consumer protection Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos yesterday called for the mobilization of consumers and the cooperation of entrepreneurs in the fight against profiteering. «No market can enjoy asylum from the jurisdiction of the government because its function is to serve, not to rule,» Tsochadzopoulos told the National Consumer Council. Continuous dialogue with both sides and a strengthening of the role of the Competition Commission and the Food Control Agency will provide parallel support for achieving fully deregulated markets, he said. The dialogue should aim to promote the broadest possible public support for the establishment of a consumer ombudsman, which will back the activities of consumer organizations. Tsochadzopoulos said the issue of unfair practices – particularly in the domains of consumer credit, insurance and public utility services – and administrative measures against them was under discussion throughout the EU, with a view to updating legislation. The Consumers Institute (INKA) called for an intensification of market checks. Car prices Greece is one of the cheapest, and often the cheapest, markets for small and medium-sized private cars in the European Union, according to European Commission data. This is attributed to the relatively low incomes of Greek consumers, which forces manufacturers to quote low commensurate prices, and to low taxes. By contrast, prices for big cars tend to be among the highest, mainly the result of high taxes; the factory price for a Mercedes E 220 in Greece in May was 31,804 euros – almost exactly the EU average – but the final price was 58,861 euros, almost 20,000 euros more than in most other EU members. OLP The initial public offer of the Piraeus Port Authority for listing on the Athens bourse was oversubscribed more than 10 times, according to provisional results. The government sold 6,072,000 shares to private investors and a further 303,000 through private placement. Non-institutional investors that will retain their shares for at least six months will be given a bonus of one share for every 10.