Public debt seen breaking the 200-billion-euro mark in 2005 Greece’s public debt is projected to rise above 200 billion euros in 2005, Economy and Finance Ministry sources told Kathimerini. The figure excludes a «dormant» sum of 13 billion euros in guarantees for loans obtained by public organizations and enterprises, but includes 5 billion in coupons of bond loans rescheduled by the previous PASOK government which are maturing this year. The present government recently decided to settle the debts of public hospitals (mainly to pharmaceutical companies), amounting to 2.2 billion. This year’s projected public borrowing requirement is 40 billion euros. Greece is under pressure from the European Commission to reduce its public debt to below 100 percent of GDP, against a prescribed limit of 60 percent. Sioufas looks forward to tapping Olympics’ effect on investment The government will have to create a favorable framework for tapping the success of the Olympic Games and the improvement in its international profile to attract foreign investment, and not just in the tourism sector, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said yesterday. Speaking to reporters, he noted that investment bank Morgan Stanley has decided to open a branch in Greece, and that contacts were made during the Games and will continue between the Public Power Corporation and Electricité de France on power production and organization issues. Separately, Sioufas approved the subsidization of 699 investment proposals by young entrepreneurs under the EU Third Community Support Framework, budgeted at 55.3 million euros and estimated to create 1,740 new jobs. Tax absolution About 800,000 firms and self-employed professionals with gross revenues of up to 8.8 million euros are given the option of obtaining tax absolution for the fiscal years between 1999 and 2002 by paying «blanket» sums according to business category. According to specifications set by the Finance Ministry, personal businesses (category A books) will have to pay a minimum of 200 euros per fiscal year, the self-employed of B category at least 300 euros per year and firms of B category at least 500 euros. The dues of larger firms of C category have been set at 0.2-1.0 percent of gross revenues. All those included in the above categories will receive special invoices from their public tax office with the above minimum sums, which they may accept without contacting a tax official within 30 days and pay a minimum initial 10 percent installment. Payment means automatic closing of all outstanding tax issues for the four-year period. Bond Piraeus Bank plans to launch a lower Tier II benchmark bond, lead managers for the deal said yesterday. BASL, CSFB and Morgan Stanley have been mandated to lead manage the floating-rate issue, which will carry a 10-year maturity with five-year non-call, and will be launched off the issuer’s euro medium-term note program. (Reuters) OTE OTE Telecom yesterday named Haralambos Dimitriou, 48, a legal adviser to Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, as non-executive director.