ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t plans taxation bill with extensive changes in September The government’s first taxation bill, due in September, will focus on reforming tax inspection methods, sources said. The general direction is for such methods to be «objectified» on the basis of certain criteria, and the introduction of a point system which the previous PASOK government had announced is not being ruled out. However, a general increase in the taxation level is ruled out and the effort to prevent deficits from swelling in 2004 is seen as being based on restrained expenses. The bill will also introduce value-added tax (VAT) on new buildings, with a parallel abolition of the property transfer tax as of January 1, 2005. Finance Ministry officials say the general direction is for full observance of the pre-election program of the new government, and the introduction of VAT is seen as a healthy measure for the building sector which will restrict tax evasion. The change will not mean an increase in taxation, they add, but will necessitate raising the officially determined property prices according to area, which are adjusted on average every two years and have fallen behind market values by 30-40 percent. The ministry is studying a plan to maintain the exemption of first-time house buyers from VAT. OTE notifies of suits over reports of bonuses OTE Telecom said it will file suits against anyone responsible for the way its approval of bonuses for senior executives just before the March 7 election was presented in press and radio reports. Kathimerini reported on Wednesday that OTE had approved bonuses for the 2003 fiscal year for at least 19 senior executives. OTE said it will seek moral damages for itself and CEO Lefteris Antonakopoulos, as the reports were aimed at creating the false impression that the bonuses were politically motivated. OTEGlobe OTE Telecom subsidiary OTEGlobe and Sweden’s TeliaSonera International Group announced an agreement for cooperation in the provision of IP, data, voice and capacity services to telecom companies in SE Europe, and the Middle and Far East. According to a statement, the agreement aims at maximizing commercial synergies, increasing revenue and reducing investment and operational expenses. Piraeus Bank Piraeus Bank has received Deutsche Bank’s Straight-Through Processing (STP) Excellence Award in the transfer of money orders throughout the world. The award was given to one bank in each European country. Air cargo Ground handling services firm Goldair Cargo has completed a 1.5-million-euro logistics investment in Sindos, Thessaloniki, mainly for handling transit cargoes to and from neighboring Balkan countries Home exhibition European Home 2004 exhibition opens at the indoor market of Neapoli in Larissa on Saturday, lasting through March 28.