ECONOMY

In Brief

Bill unifying business registers aims to promote entrepreneurship A draft bill providing for the unification of the country’s sectoral registers is seen as considerably reducing the red tape involved in the setting up of new businesses. The new General Electronic Register will gradually cover all data on enterprises and personal businesses – excluding cooperatives, shipping companies and public enterprises – and this will be available on the Internet. The draft bill, projected to be ready in October, will be based on a study by the Information Technology and Telecommunications Department of the University of Athens and consulting firms Temagon and Trek Consulting. Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said the new register will promote market liberalization and competition. Olympic Airways denies report of irregularities in fuel management Olympic Airways categorically denied a Kathimerini report yesterday that in recent months it has been flying on fuel «borrowed» from fuel companies at Athens airport because of an alleged inability to keep the mandatory five days of reserves. «The company assures the passenger public that no such issue exists,» it said in a statement. It blamed the report on malice on the part of Michalis Karalis, former head of its subsidiary Olympic Fuel Company, whose term expired on June 30 but who said yesterday he will withdraw «only after legality is restored and penal responsibilities do not hang over our heads because we obeyed company instructions.» SEKAP Xanthi-based cooperative tobacco firm SEKAP rejected press reports that is facing imminent bankruptcy and liquidation. «This cannot be the case with a company that has shown impressive results so far this year, a profitable 2002 and at 9 percent has the second largest market share,» said SEKAP chairman Athanassios Papageorgiou. He noted the company had realized a record 312 tons of sales in June, largely due to the success of its latest product, GR International 25’s, which sold 90 tons. SEKAP, the country’s biggest cooperative, will continue its successful drive for modernization and growth, he added. The company has a discrepancy, registered by auditors, between its equity and total share capital, which renders it legally bound to increase its equity or face liquidation. Officials said the company plans to infuse new equity capital by utilizing two large urban property assets. Sources say Agricultural Bank, SEKAP’s largest shareholder, is considering either shedding its stake or is seeking to change the articles of association that will permit a degree of privatization. Yesterday, workers blockaded the Xanthi-Kavala highway, protesting at the prospect of privatization and plans for jobs to be cut from 440 today to around 300. Model tax office Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday inaugurated the first of a planned 20-25 pilot «one-stop shops» for taxpayers in the Athens district of Kallithea. The citizens’ service bureaus, to be set up inside large public tax offices, are designed to provide taxpayers with any service or document, by a single official, which to date has often required endless wanderings among different departments. Christodoulakis said the scheme is «a first step towards a new perception of serving citizens.» The pilot scheme is being extended to tax offices in Ilion, Aegaleo, Nea Philadelphia and Peristeri today.