Parliament postpones decision on gold mine concession Parliament yesterday put off a decision to confer a gold-mining concession in Halkidiki, northern Greece, to a Canadian-led business consortium. Citing procedural issues, the opposition refused to discuss ratification of a contract that would help European Goldfields, a Canadian-based company, to obtain exploitation rights over an area of 31,400 hectares for 11 million euros. Parliament will consider the issue again in January in order to give members more time to examine it, its speaker, Apostolos Kaklamanis, said. European Goldfields is to lead a business consortium in which Greek construction companies and local municipalities would also participate. TVX Gold, another Canadian company and European Goldfield’s predecessor, had pulled out of the same concession after a Greek court struck down plans to develop a gold mine in the forested, seaside area, citing environmental concerns. (AFP) Growing trend toward private pension schemes Growing uncertainty about the future of the country’s social insurance system is making private pension schemes increasingly popular, according to a study by the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece (EAAE). Group pension schemes realized a 93.3 percent rise in premium revenue in the first half of 2003, EAAE Chairman Giorgos Kotsalos told an event in Thessaloniki. There is also strong demand for private health and hospital coverage. The study also showed a general effort in the industry toward rationalization of cost structures. Government officials said a draft bill establishing an independent overseeing authority for the sector will be tabled early next year. More Greeks visit Turkey Greek arrivals in Turkey in the January-November period reached a record high of 365,030, up 44 percent year-on-year, according to the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Greeks account for 2.74 percent of Turkey’s foreign arrivals – in ninth place – which totaled 13.32 million in this period, setting a new record. Germans were by far the biggest national group of visitors, representing 23.9 percent of the total, with Russians in second place with 9.1 percent and Britons in third with 8 percent. Aspis The Aspis financial group is about to announce the acquisition of one or two insurance companies and is planning for two more in 2004, Chairman Panayiotis Psomiadis told a press briefing in Thessaloniki yesterday. He also said Aspis continues to be interested in a 40-45 percent stake in General Bank and its expansion into Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. The group, which absorbed Nordstern Colonia earlier this year, has captured about 1 percent of the Swedish insurance market in the last four years and is now exploring the markets in Belgium, France and Finland. 2004 medical facilities The N. Papapostolou firm is the officially licensed supplier of medical equipment for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, following a contract signed yesterday with Athens 2004, the organizers. The equipment will be installed in about 220 medical stations in sports and non-sports facilities during the Games.