In Brief

Insurers meet minister on pressing problems Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris today is meeting officials of the Insurance Companies Association of Greece (EAEE), with talks planned to focus on the creation of an independent overseeing authority for the industry. The acute problems of the loss-making car insurance sector is also on the agenda. Separately, in its latest monthly bulletin EAEE called for a reduction or abolition of taxes on certain categories of cover in the life sector, like the 2.4 percent stamp duty and the turnover tax on premiums, which is 4 percent for short-term policies and 10 percent for complementary contracts. EAEE urged the government to understand that insurance is a lever for economic growth and to introduce more incentives, particularly for complementary pension programs. Health cover premiums are expected to go up by up to 20 percent as of January, as a result of a recent steep rise in private healthcare costs. Total insurance premiums in Greece account for 2 percent of GDP, against a 9.2 percent EU average. Telestet takes first step toward 3G market in Greece Mobile telephony firm Stet Hellas, the operator of Telestet, this week is starting an experimental scheme of third-generation (3G) services with 300 users – the first in Greece – with a view to formulating the final commercial package planned for launching in December. The services include fast Internet access (384 kbps) and multimedia. Telestet is projecting an investment of 300 million euros for the development of a UMTS (3G) network in Greece in the next four years. Medicines The Development Ministry is threatening to refer pharmaceuticals maker Olvos to a public prosecutor for price increases of 31-45 percent for three of its preparations, Lysopaine, Neurobion and Paraplus, which came into effect yesterday. The company claims the increases are in order as the ministry failed to reply, according to the law, within days on the matter, whereas the ministry contends it asked for additional data that was never submitted. Firms complain that the National Pharmaceuticals Organization takes up to five years to approve domestically produced drugs while imports are given the green light in less than six months, and that the government owes the shrinking sector about 1 billion euros. PPC Bank sources yesterday projected the price range for the 36.5 million shares of the Public Power Corporation being offered for public subscription from tomorrow to Friday at between 16.40 and 17.72 euros each; an official announcement is due today. Plaisio IT retailer Plaisio Computers reported a 53.2 percent rise in earnings to 5.1 million euros in the first three quarters, year-on-year, on turnover growth of 26.5 percent to 123.5 million. Michaniki Construction firm Michaniki has signed a 14.4-million-euro deal with the Lamda Development group to build a 7-hectare shopping and entertainment mall, Mediterranean Cosmos, in Pylaia, Thessaloniki.