ECONOMY

In Brief

‘Strike’ of farm produce inspectors begins to bite Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys yesterday filed a court application for the abstention from duties of public farm produce and veterinary inspectors, continuing into its 16th day, to be declared illegal and abusive. The Association of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) called for an urgent appointment of skeleton staff to prevent the irretrievable loss of foreign markets for perishable goods. «The international credibility of our country’s businesses is suffering a decisive blow, with unpredictable consequences on the balance of fresh produce,» SVVE said in a letter to the ministers of economy, interior and agriculture, threatening to seek compensation in the event of losses. Drys’s application is to be heard on Monday, when the inspectors are scheduled to begin rolling 48-hour strikes. Their abstention yesterday began causing backlogs of imports at customs stations on the Turkish and Bulgarian borders. There were reports of rising meat prices, as most slaughterhouses have been shut, and of wholesale meat importers planning to diversify their supply sources in expectation of shortages. But Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris said certain shortages were due to reasons other than the strike and said consumers need not fear as food inspections were being carried out by the National Food Control Agency and prefectural officials. Christodoulakis sees full speed ahead for part-privatizations Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday the government’s program of part-privatization will acquire as fast a pace as possible «because it meets the real restructuring needs of the economy.» The program includes the second part-flotation of the Public Power Corporation this month, the first part-flotation of Hellenic Tourism Properties in November and the issuing of an invitation for a strategic partner for the Athens Water Company within days. Emporiki Emporiki Bank President Yiannis Stournaras told shareholders yesterday that the end of the era of low interest rates was in sight and it was now in the interest of the bank to borrow for the next five years. He rejected charges that France’s Credit Agricole, Emporiki’s strategic partner, was creating obstacles to growth and said the target is to regain third market position again. For lack of a quorum yesterday, a repeat assembly will be held on October 15 to approve a proposal for the issue of bond loans of up to 2 billion euros. Tellas Alternative telecoms and Internet provider Tellas announced new lower rates for fixed-line to mobile calls as of November 1. Calls per minute (minimum) to Vodafone and CosmOTE will come down to 0.214 euros on working days and to 0.199 euros on weekends and holidays. The respective rates to Telestet and Q-Telecom will be 0.229 and 0.216 euros per minute. Petrola Oil refiner Petrola’s share is delisted from trading on the Athens bourse as of today, in view of the firm’s merger with Hellenic Petroleum. It is replaced by Shelman on the industrial index.