ECONOMY

In Brief

Aviation unions reject reports OA faces imminent bankruptcy The Federation of Civil Aviation Unions (OSPA) has protested at press reports claiming that the financial statements of Olympic Airways (OA) for 2001, issued last week, is one step before bankruptcy. OSPA said in a statement that OA, despite chronic structural problems which it has not been able to solve due to EU regulations, showed a stronger endurance to the crisis that hit the industry as a result of the September 11, 2001 events, and managed to survive without layoffs. It said OA’s losses in 2001 rose 51 percent when those of other competitors rose 180 percent. «The employees of OA categorically state they will resist by all means those that undermine the efforts for the survival of the company,» said OSPA. OA’s operating losses widened from 95 million euros in 2000 to 144 million in 2001. The government is currently preparing to table proposals for a revamped New Olympic Airways, free of debts, and is in the process of negotiating with unions over the new terms of employment. Developments are expected this week. NBG employees oppose idea of share block sale to foreign investors The union of employees of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) – the country’s largest – has said it is opposed to the idea of a tranche of shares owned by the government being sold to foreign investors, as reported by the press in the last few days. The union proposes that the goverment transfers most of its shares to the Social Security Foundation in repayment for acknowledged debts. It called on the government and management to provide binding answers. Profiteering The government is considering extending the measure demanding the display of suggested prices on products (other than bottled water) if instances of profiteering, particularly in tourist areas, do not subside, Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said. He described the phenomenon as paradoxical, when competition is effective as regards accommodation prices. OKTA Talks on resolving a dispute between Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the claimed privileged treatment of the OKTA refinery in Skopje – majority-owned by ELPE – are «at a crux,» said FYROM’s Economy Minister Ilia Filipovski. A fourth round of talks has been scheduled for the end of August. Entrepreneurship A total of 22,852 enterprises had been founded since 1998 and continued to operate in 2002, according to a study by business consultants firm ICAP. The rate of establishment of new firms, however, declined from almost 5,000, with a total share capital of 1.5 billion euros, in 2001 to 4,655, with total capital of 940 million euros in 2002. The study attributes the decline to the world economic downturn. In 2002, the services sector, excluding commerce and tourism, accounted for about 50 percent of both the number and total share capital of firms. The number of mergers, absorptions and splits of firms rose from 30 in 2001 to 93 in 2002, mostly in commerce. A total of 1,539 firms that were founded during the period in question had been liquidated by the end of last year.