PPC denies claim of dominant market position due to lignite rights The Public Power Corporation (PPC) yesterday countered a European Commission warning released on Thursday that it maintains a dominant position in the Greek power production market, possibly in breach of competition regulations, by holding exclusive rights on the mining of lignite. PPC said it has mining rights on only about 63 percent of the country’s lignite deposits, for which it paid considerable amounts of money to acquire and it continues to pay a special levy on the mining, equal to 0.4 percent of its annual sales revenue. «PPC is financially burdened for its lignite mining more than any other company in the European Union that uses open-cast mines for power production,» it said in a statement. PPC said it had not been notified by the government of the Commission warning, which gave Greece two months to either justify or put an end to its use of lignite. Furthermore, it countered the claim of a dominant market position, saying that since deregulation in February 200, the government has granted nine licenses to big European power producers which have already begun exports to large clients in Greece. Lignite is used for 60 percent of Greece’s power production. Bulgaria wants Greek firms to take part in transport projects Bulgaria’s Regional Development and Public Works Minister Valentin Cerovski called on Greek firms to form consortiums with Bulgarian companies with a view to participating in a growing number of transport projects throughout his country. Speaking at a special event on the subject in Thessaloniki, he said his government is determined to modernize Bulgaria’s transport infrastructure before EU accession in 2007. Currently, the focus of interest is on the Thessaloniki-Sofia European Axis IV and its extension to Lom, Bulgaria’s second largest cargo port on the Danube. About 1,100 Greek firms have invested more than $3.2 billion in Bulgaria, employing approximately 85,000 people. According to data from the Association of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE), Bulgaria has absorbed 100 percent of private investment subsidies under the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (ESOEAB). SVVE is proposing that more funds be diverted to Bulgaria from others in the region with very low absorption rates. Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said the proposal will be examined legally and politically. Bond issue The Finance Ministry on Tuesday, April 6, will auction a 10-year bond, maturing on May 20, 2014, at a fixed rate of 4.5 percent. Private investors may participate for sums up to 15,000 euros by registering at their banks from Monday to Wednesday. Yields will be tax free if the bonds are retained until maturity. Insurance The Development Ministry is not considering revoking the licenses of any insurance firms, Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said. Industry officials said companies are raising their car insurance premiums but life policy premiums are stable. Private hospitals have reached a three-year agreement with insurers to raise charges by up to 90 percent of inflation.