ECONOMY

In Brief

Small operators voice concern over effects of Olympic business hours Small traders’ and artisans’ organizations yesterday voiced concern that changes in business hours in view of the Olympics might stay after the event. «We must not allow any diversion from established practice on the pretext of the Olympic Games; some appear to be seeking to shape the day after as it suits them, at the expense of small enterprises and consumers,» officials said. They called for a joint meeting with trade unions and consumer organizations to discuss issues emerging from the continued entry of multinational chains. Exporters welcome measures for speedy return of VAT Business organizations yesterday expressed strong satisfaction with the government’s recent measure speeding up the return of an accumulated sum of 60 million euros of value-added tax to exporters. The measure will «strengthen the effort of Greek exporters to regain the lost competitiveness of their products and attempt anew the penetration of foreign markets,» said the Central Association of Chambers of Greece. The Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece (SEVE) welcomed it as a positive move, but said it had to be accompanied by the abolition of the requirement for evidence of payment for invoices exceeding 15,000 euros, as paying arrangements for these are usually spread over a 30-90 day period. It pointed out that the previous government had also promised speedy return of VAT but that this had stumbled on red tape. No dues Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou has annulled his predecessor’s decision that the country’s 50,000 societés anonymes be required to pay 150 euros to each of the two tax officials who would conduct compulsory inspection on them for conversion of their share capital from drachmas into euros. «It is unacceptable that the subject of a compulsory inspection should shoulder the cost,» he said. NBG National Bank (NBG) has been rated best in the Greek market for the second year in a row in the provision of trusteeship services to foreign institutional investors by US magazine Global Finance. The bank’s repeat general assembly yesterday approved a number of amendments to the charter in line with the principles of corporate governance, including the replacement of the titles of governor and deputy governor with those of managing director and deputy managing director. Cost of living The Cyclades, Corfu, Zakynthos, Fokida and Halkidiki, are Greece’s five most expensive prefectural districts, more so than Athens, according to a study by the Consumers Institute (INKA). The Peloponnese is the cheapest region for holidays. According to an international study by MHRC, Athens is the world’s 50th most expensive city in 2004, up from 71st position last year. Intralot Gaming software firm Intralot has set up a holding subsidiary in Cyprus, which, according to a statement, will be the umbrella for the group’s other arms in SE Europe and the Middle East. It will include Lotrom SA, Yugolot, Bilot EOOD, Intralot International and Lebanese Games SAL.