ECONOMY

In Brief

Koulouris throws down gauntlet at ‘profiteers,’ imposes ceilings Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris yesterday decided to impose a 45 percent ceiling on the profit margin on all prepacked goods sold by monopolistic outlets, such as canteens and cafeterias in airports, archaeological sites, ships, hospitals and schools, and a top price of 2.50 euros for fresh juices and coffees. «I don’t care if businesspeople disagree, I’m ready for a showdown because I consider it a social affront for operators making huge turnovers to profiteer without limit by invoking the free market,» he said, adding that he was also indifferent to whether affected businessmen sought legal redress at Greek or European bodies. Koulouris’s superior, Akis Tsochadzopoulos, declined to comment on the decision, formal as of today. Earlier, however, he said the government’s efforts to maintain prices stable are bearing fruit. Government moves to end Helexpo and TIF fair trouble The government next week is expected to replace the boards of directors of trade fair agency Helexpo and of Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) to defuse recent tension between the two which has led to an impasse. The two sister companies – a single entity before 2001 – are now expected to have separate chairpersons instead of one. The move is seen as necessary for the promotion of Thessaloniki’s bid for Expo 2008. Nine-month results General Bank reported a nine-month group profit of 11.5 million euros, against a loss of 9.4 million euros in the same period last year. Net interest income jumped 33.7 percent to 83.4 million euros, but provisions for bad loans were up 38.4 percent to 18.4 million euros. The bank posted a loss in 2002. Plastic pipe manufacturer Petzetakis reported nine-month group pretax profit of 4.3 million euros, against a loss of 0.6 million in the same period last year, on a turnover rise of 8.6 percent to 144.9 million. The multinational group said it had managed to reduce its total debt liability by 25.9 percent to 151.1 million euros. Separately, commercial refrigerator maker Frigoglass said nine-month group pretax profit after minorities grew 64 percent to 24.3 million euros, on turnover 12 percent higher at 257.5 million euros. Younger ships Seventeen ships, totaling 907,700 register tons and with an average age of 8.5 years, were entered on the Greek shipping register in September, while another 10, totaling 167,550 register tons and averaging an age of 30 years, were delisted. In October, entries and delistings balanced out, but the average age of entries was much lower. GNTO The Greek National Tourism Organization is preparing to participate in the Shanghai tourism fair of 2004 and open a permanent bureau in the city. Sky Nanny Passengers flying Gulf Air from Athens to Sydney via Bahrain, beginning November 23, will be able to enjoy the carrier’s Sky Nanny service for kids up to 12 on the second leg of the journey. The service will also apply to unaccompanied minors. Polis 2003 The fourth international exhibition of local government organizations and private and social enterprises, Polis 2003, will be held at Thessaloniki’s Helexpo grounds on November 27-30.