ECONOMY

In Brief

Cyprus central bank chief warns of fiscal deficit Cyprus will have a higher-than-expected fiscal deficit in 2003 unless revenues increase and expenditure is kept under control, the central bank governor said. Christodoulos Christodoulou told a parliamentary finance committee that the country needed a collective effort to bring Cyprus’s economy in line with those of other EU nations and to meet the Maastricht criteria. Cyprus is slated to join the bloc in May but it faces a forecast budget deficit of 5.4 percent of gross domestic product this year, exceeding limits for eurozone members. However he forecast that for 2004 the fiscal deficit would be reduced to 3.7 percent, in 2005 to 2.8 percent and would reach 2.2 percent by 2006. «These are optimistic forecasts, but these targets will not be realistic or attainable unless there exists a greater effort to reduce the fiscal deficit and this should be seen as not only a government effort but a collective effort,» Christodoulou said. «You can’t achieve a target of reducing the deficit to 3.7 percent only with a reduction in public expenditure, most of which are inflexible.» Christodoulou said the government could increase its income by clamping down on tax evasion rather than increasing taxes. He also said he was optimistic that joining the eurozone was still attainable. (Reuters) Paschalidis unveils batch of measures for shipping industry A batch of 44 measures for bostering the Greek shipping industry and the competitiveness of the country’s shipping register, presented to a parliamentary committee by Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis yesterday, include the setting up of a permanent general secretary at the ministry, the permanent presence of doctors on all passenger ships and improvements in the social security status of seamen serving on vessels of more than 500 register tons. Some of the measures, which Paschalidis said are part of a four-year program, will take effect immediately. He said Greece will seek to bring the seat of the European Maritime Safety Agency to Piraeus. Minoan Greek ferry operator Minoan Lines said yesterday that nine-month group net profit rose to 4.1 million euros from 0.8 million last year, with sales up 9.5 percent from the same period in 2002. Group nine-month sales totaled 155.2 million euros. It added that on a parent company level, net profits reached 3.6 million euros in the nine-month period compared with a 1.7 million loss a year earlier. Minoan said in a statement that based on the nine-month results it expected to deliver a net profit for the full year 2003. (Reuters) Natural gas The 6th International Natural Gas Exhibition, AERION 2003, opens at the Piraeus Port Authorities (OLP) exhibition center tomorrow and will last until Sunday. For further information, tel 210.819.6700. IBM IBM Hellas presents «IBM eServer pSeries: A glimpse into the Future of the World of Unix,» tomorrow, 3.30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Sofitel Athens Airport hotel. To register call 800.11.68220.