ECONOMY

In Brief

IAS to apply in 2004 annual statements; new capital market code Greek listed firms will first apply International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS/IAS) in the annual financial statements of 2004, instead of the originally planned 2003, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said during a presentation of the new Capital Market Code yesterday. The delay is necessary because of continuing disagreements in the EU over IAS 32 and 39 which concern the financial sector, he said. The new code, which incorporates a host of separate provisions issued in recent years and is projected to come into force in the spring, provides, among other things, for fines of up to 50 million euros for manipulation of the prices of shares and derivatives, and abusers of inside information. The criteria of manipulation include the dissemination of false information or rumors through the media, and the purchase or sale of securities after the close of a session. The code augments the powers of the Capital Market Commission, which now include the right to ask judicial authorities to freeze or impound personal assets. Absolution for past VAT sinners – at a small price The government hopes to usher enterprises clean of past sins into the new point-system of tax inspections in the new year and will shortly introduce in a draft bill significant reductions in the amounts of fines for past receivers and issuers of bogus invoices. Finance Ministry officials said the measure aims at facilitating exporting firms which have been found to have received illegal returns of VAT; it is also expected to boost public revenues as the potential of other sources seems to have dried up. The bill, however, provides for prison terms of one to 10 years for future violators. Prices Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris said yesterday he would consider publicizing the names of profiteering firms if a process of dialogue in controlling excessive price rises failed. But separately he was contradicted by his superior minister, Akis Tsochadzopoulos, who said, «You should not expect specific names, price rises are visible and the consumer can choose.» He said the government will inaugurate an permanent tripartite process of dialogue with consumers and producers, with the first forum of consumer organizations scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Group insurance Insurance company Allianz yesterday unveiled a new, pension-oriented, group insurance product for employees of firms and organizations, All Synergon. It includes options for individual savings accounts, health cover for the policy holders and their dependents, and a clause for conversion into a personal policy. Allianz officials said group insurance turnover in Greece rose 75 percent in the first half of 2003, year-on-year, despite serious institutional weaknesses affecting the industry segment. Recycling The Hellenic Recovery and Recycling Society (HERRA) is holding an event on the recycling of packaging materials at the Aigli conference hall, Zappeion, at noon tomorrow.