In Brief

Greek GDP growth rate slows further to 3.8 pct in Q3 Greek gross domestic product posted a 3.8 percent rise in the third quarter, year-on-year, according to the National Statistics Service (NSS). GDP had risen yearly by 3.9 percent in the previous quarter of 2004 and by 4.0 percent in the year’s first three months. NSS data show investments to have risen by 2.6 percent yearly between July and September, contributing to the economy’s final demand by 0.5 percent. In the same period, exports went up by 7.9 percent on a yearly basis, reaching 6,350 million euros, and imports rose by 5.9 percent year-on-year, totaling 9,141 million euros. The increase in imports is smaller than that of exports, demonstrating the contribution of domestic products to final demand. Expenditures for final consumption rose by 4.3 percent compared with the third quarter of last year, contributing 2.7 percent to the increase of final demand, according to the NSS. Still fewer employed to keep pensions going The ratio of those in active employment to pensioners declined to 1.78 this year, from 1.79 in 2003 and 1.82 in 2002, according to the Social Services Budget 2004. The total surplus of social insurance funds, which are overseen by the government, also fell to 1.40 billion euros in 2004 from 1.79 billion last year. Revenues totaled 25.80 billion euros and expenses 24.40. The share of workers’ contributions remained stable at 33.06 percent, while employers’ input rose to 30.17 percent from 29.62 percent in 2003. The total property of social insurance funds was estimated to be worth 21.8 billion euros on December 31, 2003. The share of pensions in expenses dropped from 68.20 percent in 2003 to 66.43 percent in 2004. A number of social insurance funds are showing large deficits, offset by surpluses in others. Olympic Airlines Greece has launched yet another attempt to privatize flag carrier Olympic Airlines and its ground-handling and technical maintenance services now bundled under another company. Lazard, National Bank, Emporiki Investment Bank and Alpha Finance will act as financial advisers, the government said in several newspaper advertisements yesterday. The Finance Ministry had flagged the move in October after declaring the last sell-off attempt void. The government is targeting privatization revenues of about 1.6 billion euros in 2005. (Reuters) National Certification The Ministry for Development has set up a National Council for Quality in Development and a National Council of Accreditation, harmonizing Greece with European legislation and completing the formation of a National Certification System. The system aims at ensuring that Greek products freely circulating in the rest of the European Union meet specifications regarding safety, hygiene and environmental protection. Paying taxes made easier Taxpayers will soon be able to settle debts via the Internet and cash machines. The Economy Ministry has completed a plan aimed at cutting lines at tax offices and at cashier windows. Taxpayers who subscribe to web banking will be able to tap in a special number along with their card number to pay their income tax; the same could be made available at ATMs.