ECONOMY

In Brief

Price rises for white appliances in the pipeline Prices for white goods such as fridges and washing machines are expected to rise next year. The president and CEO of retailer Radio Korasidis, Andreas Korasidis, says, «We will be happy if the increase is under 15 percent,» for the sector representing 40 percent of the market. Part of the rise (5-8 percent) is attributed to the increase in the cost of materials. On the other hand, stereos, videos, TVs and the like will remain stable and even become cheaper in some cases (such as plasma TVs). Turnover has been the same this year, although sales volume has increased by 5 percent in all products except air conditioners, which were down 25 percent in units. Ministry orders auditing probe into finances of overseen organizations Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said yesterday that private and government auditors will launch an exhaustive investigation into the books of all public organizations supervised by the ministry, some of which, including the Seamen’s Pension Fund (NAT), have not submitted balance sheets in recent years. The measure will also affect all port authorities. «We are targeting full transparency,» Kefaloyiannis said. Greece in court The European Court of Justice yesterday heard two cases brought against Greece for violating EU legislation. One concerned an order for conveyor belts for the Public Power Corporation’s (PPC) plant in Megalopolis, Peloponnese, in 1999, which was placed without a public tender. Greek Foreign Ministry lawyers argued that the order was made by direct assignment because the order was urgent for environmental reasons and that when the Commission intervened two years later the project was already 80 percent complete. The second case concerns hundreds of millions of euros of state subsidies to Olympic Airways in the past, which the Commission deems illegal. The court’s attorney-general will deliver his arguments in the two cases on February 24 and 1 2005 respectively. Fuel prices The situation in the fuel market is reportedly tense as refineries, suppliers and retailers blame each other for high prices at the pump. The Development Ministry has called for lower prices in line with declining oil prices and is threatening to launch extensive checks and penalties. Minister Dimitris Sioufas has twice conferred with representatives of oil refineries, supplying companies and petrol stations on the issue but prices remain sticky. At yesterday’s meeting he warned that «the ministry will be merciless on any declensions.» Students going for gold «Imagine Cup,» the international student competition organized yearly by Microsoft, will be held in Japan next year and any students wishing to enter from Greece are invited to register at www.thespoke.gr. Participants use Microsoft tools and mobile devices, as well as their talent and creativity, for a top prize of $25,000. The theme in the Greek qualifier in Software Design is «Imagine a world where technology dissolves boundaries between us.» Last year Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University students earned top spot in Europe and finished third in the world final, winning $12,500.