In Brief

Oil prices push consumer price index 3.2 percent up in October Greece’s consumer price inflation spiked to 3.2 percent year-on-year in October, its highest level this year, due to higher energy costs, National Statistics Service (NSS) data showed yesterday. Consumer inflation had come in at 2.8 percent in September. «The basic reason for the inflation hike in October is due to heating oil (reinclusion in the CPI index at a higher price) and increased fuel prices,» said NSS Secretary-General Manolis Kontopyrakis. «November inflation is expected at 3.1-3.2 percent as things stand today and with fuel prices as they are now. If there is no rise in oil prices in the near future, an average inflation of 2.9 percent is almost certain in 2004, even if inflation comes to 3.2 percent in the coming months.» Greece’s EU-harmonized consumer price inflation rate, which is used by the European Union in its calculations of overall eurozone inflation, and has differentiated weightings, was up 3.3 percent in October, year-on-year. (Reuters) Alogoskoufis has plans for role of private insurers in social security The Association of Insurance Companies (EAEE) yesterday expressed satisfaction with Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis’s assurances of plans to eliminate a series of counterincentives in the sector. At a meeting, the minister said he planned amendments regarding tax breaks on premium payments, as well as private insurance’s complementary role in social security. Noting that private insurance has great scope for growth in Greece, he said he will make further announcements tomorrow at EAEE’s one-day event on the occasion of «Private Insurance Day.» Private insurance today accounts for 2-2.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Cyprus layoffs The board of financially troubled Cyprus Airways is considering laying off as many as 450 employees – more than three times the number previously announced, Transport Minister Haris Thrasou said yesterday. This, he said, is one of the options considered in the airline’s rescue plan, adding that salaries might not be paid in full to employees at the end of the month due to the company’s cash shortage. Separately, KEO, Cyprus’s largest winemaker, said it may lay off 130 of its 700 workers as part of a restructuring plan designed to make it more flexible and cost-effective. Egnatia-International Life Egnatia Bank and insurance firm International Life yesterday announced a cooperation scheme whereby the insurer will participate in the management of Egnatia Praktoriaki, creating new bancassurance programs and training and supporting Egnatia consultants on cross sales. Yamanouchi The third-largest pharmaceutical company in Japan, Yamanouchi, has opened a Greek office and plans to invest in performing clinical tests in Greece, where its sales have shown a ten-fold increase in the last four years.