In Brief

CSFIII funds absorption faster but huge distance remains The absorption of European Union investment subsidies has accelerated under the new government but there is still danger of funds being lost due to past delays, Deputy Economy Minister Christos Folias said yesterday. He said total absorption under the Third Community Support Framework for the 2001-2006 period, budgeted at a total of 50 billion euros, had risen to 28.7 percent at the end of November from 22.1 percent in March. About 450 million is in danger of being lost by the end of the year if it fails to be absorbed within two years after being approved, he added, but expressed confidence that the loss will be averted. «We inherited a cumbersome system, burdened with sins and outstanding issues with the European Commission,» he said. PPC approves first natural gas-fired power stations For the first time, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) will replace two oil-powered production units with a new one using natural gas at Aliveri to produce 360-400 megawatts after yesterday’s approval by the PPC board. Separately, the PPC staff union has attacked Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Salagoudis for a recent warning of possible power shortages next year and urged him to release a relevant report by the Energy Planning Committee. The union also said it opposed the privatization of a third tranche of PPC shares. PPC is 51 percent government-owned. Greek constructors abroad Construction group J&P-Avax announced the signing of a contract to build a hospital and an underground car park in Qatar worth 78.4 million euros. Earlier this month, the company announced that its consortium with Edrasis H. Psallidas had undertaken the construction of water and sewage projects in Bucharest, valued at 5.6 million euros. Separately, Edrasis has set up a construction company in Kuwait with the country’s leading constructor, Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Co. The Greek company controls 49 percent, the management and the technical administration of Edrasis Middle East General Trading & Construction Ltd, which «already has initial agreements to immediately start constructing projects of considerable value,» Edrasis says. Interamerican Georgios Kotsalos will replace Minos Moisis as managing director of Interamerican, Greece’s leading insurer. Moisis resigned for personal reasons after serving the company for 17 years. Kotsalos also chairs the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece (EAEE). He started his career in Interamerican in 1976, before becoming director at Generali and holding the post of managing director and CEO at Phoenix Metrolife Emporiki in the last 10 years. Aspirin trips? «Visit Greece to buy aspirin» might be a good tourism slogan as its German maker Bayer revealed that the drug’s price in Greece is the lowest in the EU and less than half of the second lowest, in Estonia. Some travel guides even recommend buying aspirin in Greece due to its price, as it costs less than a packet of sweets. Aspirin is the only painkiller weighted in on the Greek price index and governments have kept its price stable since 1997. Now Bayer is contemplating the withdrawal of the drug from Greece as it is not profitable while Greek exports even compete with the original product in the pricey German market.