ECONOMY

In Brief

Doubts raised about effect of possible abolition of pension lump sum ceiling Bank labor union sources yesterday expressed doubts whether a Supreme Court judge’s recommendation to the plenum on Thursday – that a 1992 law setting a ceiling on lump sums for retirees of public companies and organizations is unconstitutional – will take full effect. It is argued that should the recommendation be adopted, the ability by pension funds of public companies to reimburse retroactively their pensioners for the amounts they have been deprived of before the ceiling will depend on their financial situation. The sources cite last year’s social insurance law which expressly states the condition of financial viability of pension funds for such payments. The 1992 law set a ceiling at 10 million drachmas (29,340 euros) on lump sums paid to retiring employees of banks and public organizations after 35 years of service. Adjusted for inflation, the ceiling today stands at 51,350 euros. It is also said that if the ceiling is ultimately abolished, only those who retired after a full 35 years in service will be able to claim retroactive sums. The total number of pensioners of such companies since 1993 is estimated at 70,000. Besides the Supreme Court, the issue is also expected to be taken up in May by the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, which sources say views the 1992 law as constitutional and the ceiling, therefore, as valid. 2004 Greek tourism promotion campaign abroad to start Jan. 1 Representatives of the tourism sector yesterday expressed satisfaction in learning that Greece’s winter promotion campaign abroad will start on January 1 for the first time. The campaign plan, presented by Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos at the last 2003 session of the National Tourism Council yesterday, is focused on the 2004 Olympic Games. The minister also presented the national plan for tourism for the 2004-2010 period. Tsochadzopoulos said a separate ministry for tourism, as proposed by the main opposition New Democracy party, was not likely to be more effective. Concessions A draft bill setting the legal framework for concession agreements for large public projects was approved by the Cabinet yesterday and will be tabled in Parliament shortly. Bond loans Listed snacks manufacturer Chipita International will obtain a 70-million-euro, five-year syndicated bond loan through banks Alpha, EFG Eurobank, National and Piraeus. According to a statement, the sum will be used to finance debt. Also listed non-metallic minerals firm Betanet will obtain a 12-milion-euro, five-year syndicated bond loan through six banks, to be used partially to refinance debt and to fund acquisitions and future investment. Iaso Private hospital group Iaso, located near the Athens Olympic Stadium, will be an official health services provider for the 2004 Olympics, according to an agreement signed with the organizers yesterday.