ECONOMY

In Brief

Peach crop hit by plan to bolster Olympic security Thousands of tons of ripe peaches have fallen victim to the huge security operation being mounted for this summer’s Athens Olympics. They have been left to rot on trees as the migrant workers who normally pick the fruit are not allowed into Greece because of strict border controls. Greek farmers are up in arms at the absence of thousands of neighboring Albanians who make up the bulk of the seasonal workers. «We usually have about 1,000 workers this time of year. Now we have only about 150,» Lefteris Valavanis, mayor of the small town of Apostolos Pavlos in northern Greece, told Reuters yesterday. Authorities are implementing a 1-billion ($1.21 billion) -euro security plan to thwart any potential attack on the Games. Part of the plan is a cut in entry visas this summer for non-EU member states, including Albania. «Next week, I am going to Bulgaria to try to get workers from there, because there is urgent work to be done,» the mayor said. (Reuters) Greece may get temporary fuel tax relief due to Olympics Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Salagoudis said the European Commission is considering allowing Greece to introduce a temporary one-off cut in fuel taxes due to the projected inflationary pressures from the Olympic Games. He said, however, that EU Transport and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio had dismissed a Greek proposal for a cut in fuel taxes during periods of rapidly rising prices. Salagoudis said the government is considering reducing the price of natural gas for industrial use. Bank strike The bank workers’ union (OTOE) has called a strike for Tuesday, June 1, saying that a scheduled further meeting with employers today is a «last chance.» OTOE demands include a substantial raise for new employees from the present 683 euros gross monthly salary, a convergence of pay with the rest of the EU and a 35-hour week with no cut in pay. Hyatt Regency Hotel and casino operator Hyatt Regency reported a 28.2 percent rise in group first-quarter pretax profit to 18.1 million euros. The results are not directly comparable to last year, as Hyatt started consolidating the Parnitha casino as of May 1, 2003. The Mont Parnes casino posted a 44 percent jump in first-quarter revenue to 27.7 million euros. Hyatt’s board will recommend a 2003 full-year dividend of 0.42 euro per share, up 40 percent. (Reuters) European networks Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis proposed at an international conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, that European countries devote 1.5-2.0 percent of GDP to transport networks throughout the continent. He called for the inclusion of a Thessaloniki-Istanbul «corridor» in a pan-European transport network. Insurance The Development Ministry has said insurance companies will have to submit financial statements on a six-month basis and display them on their websites as of 2005. The measure is hoped to improve the monitoring of firms’ financial positions.