In Brief

Emporiki Bank plan to tackle hot potato of staff insurance After a meeting with the prime minister on Monday, Emporiki Bank CEO Giorgos Provopoulos yesterday presented the bank’s employees’ union with a plan to solve its social insurance problem – a hot potato seen followed by similar schemes for the other banks, which will all have to deduct their social security obligations against equity capital as of next year, according to the requirements of the International Financial Reporting Standards. Emporiki in particular – Greece’s fourth largest bank by assets – has such high actuarial debt in this respect that certain analysts consider it will seriously dent its equity, shaking the whole credit system. The plan provides for the abolition of many staff privileges, prolongs working years, while a large part of the actuarial debt will be transferred to the Social Security Foundation (IKA). The union reacted strongly against the plan, which requires the employees’ approval. Bank officials asked unionists to act responsibly, consider Emporiki’s long-term interest and not short-term privileges that will lead to bankruptcy. Hellenic Bank Association President and Alpha Bank head Yiannis Costopoulos is also due to discuss the issue with the prime minister today. Software piracy steals jobs and growth prospects Business Software Alliance (BSA), the international organization which promotes global policies for the protection of copyrights on commercial software against piracy, captured pirate software with an estimated value of at least 750,000 euros in more than 30 raids on mostly small and medium-sized enterprises in the last two years, the agency said in a statement. According to a recent study by IDC company, the reduction in software piracy in Greece – estimated to account for more than 50 percent of the total software in use – could add about 518 million euros to the country’s domestic product annually, create 1,900 new jobs in the advanced technology sector and bring in 129 million euros more to public coffers. Copyright violators are liable to punishments ranging from jail terms of between one and 10 years to paying compensation double the value of the pirated products. BSA’s toll-free phone for the reporting of software piracy is 800.11.36036. Pipeline progress Bulgarian and Greek foreign ministers said yesterday progress had been made in the past few weeks on a long-delayed project to build an oil pipeline from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. «We have achieved real progress and we hope that the project will be completed in the nearest future,» Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy said after meeting his Greek counterpart Petros Molyviatis. The ministers cited an agreement last week signed by Greece, Bulgaria and Russia promising to cooperate on the project. The 285-kilometer (178 mile) pipeline – designed to link Bulgaria’s port of Burgas to Greece’s Alexandroupolis – would allow Russia to export oil through the Black Sea while bypassing the busy Bosporus Strait in Turkey. The Bosporus Strait experienced its worst bottleneck in more than a decade this year, raising concerns in Turkey that the situation could become an environmental disaster and prompting oil industry officials to look alternatives for transporting fuel to Western markets. (AP)