ECONOMY

In Brief

BoG upbeat on economy; impact of ceiling on overdue bank debts ‘mild’ Bank of Greece Governor Nicholas Garganas told Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee that Greece’s economic growth rate in 2004 will possibly exceed 4 percent, compared to the government’s forecast of 3.7 percent, and that unemployment will fall due to last year’s 4.3 percent rate and the impact of the Olympic Games. He said the central government’s deficit in the first four months of 2004 amounted to 4 percent of GDP and called for measures to contain it below 3 percent. He reiterated that the country is in no case under EU supervision for the budget deficit. Garganas said that the government’s planned provisions for a ceiling on overdue debts to commercial banks that have ballooned due to compound interest will be mild and will not have an appreciable impact on banks’ capital adequacy indicators, as part of the debt has already been written off. He proposed that the central bank undertake a supervisory role for the protection of consumers in their dealings with commercial banks. NBG looking into extensive restructuring of subsidiaries The National Bank of Greece (NBG) group, the country’s biggest in the financial sector, is reportedly examining in detail the efficiency of its subsidiaries, aiming at restructuring and improving return on equity. Particular weight will be given to group members in which NBG has made considerable investments but which have not yielded the expected results. These include Ethniki General Insurance, of which new NBG President Takis Arapoglou has decided to assume the helm, along with Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni. Sources say the process will almost certainly lead to important mergers and sales of subsidiaries. NBG has 50 subsidiaries, 37 of which are the financial sector. 3G Mobile operator CosmOTE, Greece’s market leader, yesterday launched the commercial distribution of third-generation (3G) services. These include Video Streaming (video clip screening), Video Calling, high-speed Internet, multimedia messaging and access to WAP pages. 3G services will initially be available to about 30 percent of the population, mainly covering urban districts. Academy of Labor The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) is to set up an Academy of Labor and Adult Education, with a view to offering trade unionists and working people skills for participating more actively in public life. Officials said GSEE aspires to the academy developing into a university when the legislation allows it, and that representatives will visit similar institutions in Sweden and UK to be acquainted with their experience and know-how. Taxpayers Taxpayers can be briefed on the progress of the clearing of their annual income tax returns by calling 210.485.5800 and dialing their tax registration number. OTEnet Internet provider OTEnet announced tariff reductions of 18-45 percent. asdfgsdfgsdfgsdfgsdfgs