ECONOMY

In Brief

EU investment subsidy programs for industrial SMEs to accelerate The Development Ministry plans to issue details of 12 European Union sub-programs for investment subsidies to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), part of the Competitiveness Program (EPAN), by the end of the year. It is to be budgeted at a total of 482 million euros, Deputy Development Minister Alexandros Kalafatis said. This will bring the activation rate of EPAN for industry to 100 percent from 82 percent today. So far, projects approved for subsidy represent 70 percent of the program, the contracts signed 51 percent and funds disbursed 20 percent of the program, Kalafatis said. The main sub-program is Epicheireite Electronika (Electronic Entrepreneurship), budgeted at 182.3 million euros, which offers 40 percent subsidies. The deadline for submission is November 28, 2003. Other major sub-programs concern technological modernization, budgeted at 105 million euros, for which the deadline expires on January 23, 2004, and the networking of SMEs, budgeted at 46.9 million euros, with a deadline of January 15. Productivity of tax inspectors contrasts with paying ability The number of tax inspections into companies’ books rose 22 percent in the January-September period, year-on-year, but confirmed 81.2 percent more revenue due. The higher incidence of tax evasion is attributed by some to a growing inability of firms to pay their taxes, which also bodes ill for their ability to pay the yield of the inspections. Bank distinction EFG Eurobank Ergasias has been named «best Internet-connected bank for consumers» in Greece by US magazine Global Finance, the bank said in a statement. Main evaluation criteria were e-banking strategy, the breadth of products and services and the quality of the corporate webpage. The bank’s Europhone Banking service won first prize in the «Teleperformance CRM Grand Prix 2003» contest in the «large call centers» category for the quality of service to clients. The contest is held in 40 countries by Teleperformance, a major telemarketing and teleservices provider company. Athens 2004 Supermarket chain Carrefour-Marinopoulos is the first of a series of companies to sign an agreement with Athens 2004, the organizers of the Olympic Games, aiming to facilitate traffic in the city during the events. According to the agreement, which covers the August 8-30 period, the chain will provide 1,400 free parking spaces to Athens 2004 at its Maroussi complex near the Olympic Stadium and will open at 10 a.m. to lessen congestion in the early morning rush hour. It will also stay closed on Tuesday, August 13, 2004, the day of the Games’ opening ceremony. Similar agreements are expected with two hospitals in the area next week. PPC The Capital Market Commission yesterday approved electricity utility Public Power Corporation’s (PPC) offering prospectus of existing shares to be sold by the Greek State. The government intends to sell up to 15.7 percent of PPC by the end of the month. At current market prices, the sale could fetch around 630 million euros. (Reuters)