Gov’t pins hopes for more spending on higher 2004 growth rate The 2004 budget, a draft of which will be tabled in Parliament on October 6, is based on the assumption of a 4 percent growth in the gross domestic product (GDP), Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said after a meeting with the prime minister yesterday. He forecast this year’s rate at 3.8 percent, higher than initially projected. According to sources, the budget deficit is calculated at 1 percent of GDP. Primary expenditure is projected to rise by 7 percent and revenues by 5 percent. Christodoulakis also said the government intends to further pursue its privatization program in coming months, involving part-flotations of the Public Power Corporation, Hellenic Tourism Properties and the Public Gas Corporation, which expects to receive proposals for a strategic partner on Monday. Separately, the Finance Ministry said public enterprises as a whole were well below their budgeted borrowing requirements for the year and were able to finance a significant part of their investment program from own resources. Georgievski braves possible charges over OKTA deal Former premier of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ljubco Georgievski, whose government concluded the sale of a 70 percent stake in the country’s biggest refinery, OKTA, to Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum in 1999, said he would forfeit his parliamentary immunity if corruption charges were brought against him in connection with the deal. A report issued on Thursday recommended legal proceedings against those involved in the sale. Vines and wines Vine cultivation in Greece fell by 27.5 percent by area between 1989 and 1999, the largest drop in the EU, according to data released by Eurostat. Italy was second with 24.6 percent and France was last with 4.6 percent. The drop was especially marked on some Greek islands; central Greece is the country’s biggest vine-growing region. Greece cultivates equal quantities of red and white grapes, and was sixth among EU partners in wine production in the 2000-2001 season, with 355.8 billion liters, and sixth in wine exports with 75 billion liters. France was the EU’s top wine producer but Italy its biggest exporter. Banks Seven Greek banks figure among the Europe’s 150 biggest in terms of equity capital, with the National Bank in 85th place, according to the latest issue of The Banker magazine. Piraeus Bank is in 107th position, Alpha Bank in 108th, Emporiki Bank in 115th, the Postal Savings Bank in 116th and Agricultural Bank is at the bottom of the list. Swiss-based European Financial Group, which controls EFG Eurobank Ergasias, is in 75th place. Europe’s largest bank is HSBC, with France’s Credit Agricole in second place. Futurekids Children’s computer programs firm Futurekids offers everyone six free hours of Internet training on the occasion of its 20th birthday. Trainees will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with Piraeus Bank’s e-banking facility. There will be 150 training centers throughout Greece and kids and adults should register by September 30.