ECONOMY

In Brief

General Bank tender becomes a political issue as decision looms Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday called for the tender for the partial privatization of General Bank to be frozen, claiming improper procedures. «We demand an end to the hasty auctioning off of public property. The procedures followed in this case deviate from the bounds of legality and virtuous administration. They do not secure the public interest, the employees, the Army Providence Fund (main shareholder) and the interests of active and retired officers,» he said. General Bank’s labor union is staging a strike today, protesting the government’s approval last week of plans to sell a major stake in the bank to a strategic investor. The strike coincides with the meeting of the board of the Army Providence Fund (MTS), which is to decide on the winning bidder. France’s Societe Generale (SG) last week appeared to be the strong favorite. The union denounced the plan, accusing the government of being politically motivated in favor of the French group, but it also rejected two other bids by Greek banks, Aspis and Marfin. Further, it said that SG had not provided any assurances regarding jobs and pension rights and that French press reports of money laundering by SG had not been investigated. General Bank has a current market capitalization of 170 million euros. Greece among EU laggards in incorporation of directives Greece continues to be among the laggards in the European Union concerning the harmonization of its legislation with Community directives on the single market, according to the Commission’s annual progress table, released in Brussels yesterday. With 48 directives, or 3.1 percent, still unincorporated, Greece ranks fifth worst among the 15 partners, surpassed by Belgium, Germany and France with 3.5 percent, and Luxembourg with 3.4 percent. The best five, Denmark, Spain, the UK, Ireland and Finland, are all below the 1.5 percent target set at the Lisbon summit of 2000. Greece’s rate improved from 3.4 percent last year but it has been referred to the European Court for a total of 75 cases of non-incorporation and partial or distorted incorporation. Revenue overshoots target Budget revenues for 2003 rose 5.9 percent to 41.35 billion euros, against a target of 5.1 percent, according to provisional data released by the Finance Ministry yesterday. Taxes amounted to 28.54 billion, customs duties to 9.64 billion and income from public enterprises 3.17 billion. Sato Office furniture maker Sato has won a tender to supply more than 5,000 items to American television network NBC during the Olympic Games. NBC will employ about 2,000 staff in 30 locations for coverage of the events. Sato, which last week also won a 650,000-euro contract to lease out about 9,000 items of equipment for the requirements of national Olympic committee officials and sponsors’ representatives, will begin deliveries to NBC installations in March.