ECONOMY

In Brief

New ministry hoped to revamp prospects of the tourism industry The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) will most likely retain responsibilities for communication planning and promotion of Greek tourism in the reshuffling of the sector’s administrative services with the new government’s re-establishment of a Tourism Ministry, sources said. The ministry is expected to assume extensive responsibilities and be business-oriented, eliminating a considerable amount of the existing red tape, while local government will be assigned a more active role in implementing GNTO decisions. The new government’s policy for the sector will be based on the slogan «Tourism all 12 months of the year.» Titan expects to weather out drop in domestic demand for cement The Greek cement industry can expect a drop in demand after the completion this year of Olympic projects, which accounted for about 5 percent of activity over the last five years, officials of Titan, Greece’s biggest cement firm, said. The firm itself, however, projects 2004 to be another good year due to better market conditions abroad and self-financed investment, totaling 599 million euros in the last three years. Titan’s investment program will be completed this year with the Pennsuco plant in Florida, USA. In the medium term, Greece’s tourism and holiday home industry, more infrastructure projects and immigrant inflows are expected to help domestic demand recover. EVO EvoBus Hellas, a subsidiary of EvoBus GmbH and member of the Daimler Chrysler group, which distributes Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses in Greece, said it sold 360 vehicles last year and is targeting 400 in 2004. Sales revenue rose to 81 million euros, against 19 million in 1998, when the firm started operations. Officials said the parent company, which declared EvoBus Hellas best subsidiary of the group in Europe for 2003, is unlikely to set up an assembly plant in Greece given the small size of the market. Mortgages HSBC has cut its variable mortgage rate to 3.90 percent for loans between 30,000 and 150,000 euros. Fixed rates remain unchanged at 4.90 percent and 5.40 percent for three and five years respectively. Separately, EFG Eurobank Ergasias announced the launching of a new credit card for mortgage or house repair loan-takers, EuroLine Home, which offers credit up to 15,000 euros at 9.5 percent. The card is to be used exclusively in selected household equipment firms and for special offers at a broad range of other shops. Partnerariat The Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece (SEBE) is coordinating Greek participation in the international «Partnerariat» in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on June 3 and 4, which will involve prearranged business meetings with local firms. The event is sponsored by the European Commission. Sri Lanka has signed a free trade agreement with India and prospecting investors may use the event as a first step toward accessing that country’s and other regional markets. More information may be obtained from SEVE, tel 2310.535333, e-mail: [email protected], or by visiting www.euslpart.com.