ECONOMY

In Brief

Court lifts two construction firms’ eligibility for public project tenders The Council of State yesterday decided to temporarily annul certificates granting eligibility for participation in public projects tenders to construction companies Aktor and Pantechniki. The country’s highest administrative court ordered the suspension of the two firms’ certificates of «transparency,» which are granted by the National Radio and Television Council in line with a legal requirement that media company owners cannot hold interests of more than 5 percent in construction firms. The owners’ argument that members of their families holding most of the remaining 95 percent were «economically autonomous» was ruled invalid. The two companies were due to shortly sign contracts for parts of the Egnatia Highway in northern Greece, budgeted at 250 million euros. The Council also asked the Egnatia company not to sign the contracts until June 17, 2004, when the issue of the economic autonomy of the basic shareholders is heard. Prosecutors order probe, charges in alleged cases of misappropriation An Athens prosecutor has ordered an investigation into a Kathimerini report yesterday that OTE Telecom approved bonuses for undetermined reasons for at least 19 senior executives just before the March 7 election. Senior executives are often political appointees who are traditionally replaced when a party goes out of office. Separately, another prosecutor has filed criminal charges for fraud, forgery and breach of faith against persons unknown, on the basis of an investigation based on a Kathimerini report in 2002 that the assignment of a software installation project in Hellenic Post to the Intracom group caused harm to the public interest. Tourism The Panhellenic Federation of Tourist Enterprises (POET) has sent an open letter to Tourism Minister-designate Dimitris Avramopoulos, urging him to exercise particular care in the selection of appointees in key positions of tourism administration. «It is unacceptable that key positions, such as in bureaux abroad, are staffed by people without adequate knowledge, who sometimes do not even have adequate command of a foreign language,» said the letter. POET also considers it necessary that the future Tourism Ministry cooperates effectively with other ministries. The promotion of Greek tourism abroad is «tragicomic,» the organization charged, because of inadequate funds and misplaced advertising campaigns. Inflation Greece’s inflation receded to 2.6 percent in February, year-on-year, but remained the highest in the European Union, where the average stood at 1.6 percent. ASE The FTSE Group, which compiles stock market indices worldwide, dismissed as completely inaccurate a Bloomerg agency report that intends to downgrade the Athens Stock Exchange from the category of developed markets.