ECONOMY

In Brief

FYROM report slams terms of OKTA deal A report ordered by the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has recommended penal proceedings for corruption against individuals involved in the conclusion of the sale of a 70 percent stake in the country’s biggest refinery, OKTA, to Greece’s state-controlled Hellenic Petroleum in 1999. The report found that the deal was concluded hastily and without observance of legal procedures (under the current government’s predecessor), that the public interest was seriously compromised, and that OKTA operates under monopolistic privileges which cause extensive losses to other market players. The report is the latest twist to the standoff that has involved both countries’ governments in recent years. In December 2002, a FYROM court declared as unconstitutional the law ratifying a bilateral deal for construction of a Thessaloniki-Skopje oil pipeline and the importation of fuels by OKTA under privileged terms. Subsequent reciprocal high-level visits have failed to resolve the dispute. The European Commission has also ruled against the terms of OKTA’s operation. More favorable terms for taxpayers to settle past dues The Finance Ministry has tabled a draft bill with favorable terms for about 650,000 individuals and firms to settle outstanding taxes and customs duties totaling 5.5 billion euros. The main feature is an increase in the number of installments from 26 to 48 and an exemption for debtors from the 30 percent fine for delays to date. Separately, Deputy Minister Apostolos Fotiadis yesterday signed a circular extending «blanket» tax settlement terms for uninspected fiscal years from 1993 to 1998 to manufacturing and commercial firms with average declared annual revenue of up to 734,000 euros. The measure will also apply to service companies with annual declared revenues of 220,000 to 300,000 euros, depending on the number of employees. NBG in Romania The National Bank of Greece (NBG) yesterday announced the acquisition of an 81.6 percent interest in Romania’s Banca Romaneasca (BR) through its subsidiary Romanian American Enterprise Fund. BR has 25 branches and assets of about 140 million euros. «NBG aims to expand BR’s network to 40 units and fully tap the potential of the local market… with particular emphasis on retail banking and the provision by BR of a broad spectrum of products,» said a statement. NBG already operates a stockbrokerage, an insurance company and a bank branch in Romania. Intracom Telecoms equipment maker Intracom has signed a 3-million-euro deal with Pakistan’s telecom services and Internet provider Dancom to supply and install a wireless broadband services system (i-BRAIN) in several of the country’s large cities. Exporters The Panhellenic Exporters’ Association has asked for an urgent meeting with Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys over the strike of farm produce inspectors which they say is causing extensive losses for its members.