In Brief

SEV blames state inefficiency for loss of EU funds, welcomes Turkey’s EU bid The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) said yesterday the speeding up of the country’s flagging absorption rate of European Union investment subsidies requires an improvement in the entrepreneurial climate. «No businessman will risk capital without a parallel favorable investment framework,» said SEV’s chairman, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos. On Tuesday, the Finance Ministry said the subsidy absorption rate under the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) for the 2001-2006 period stood at a mere 28.7 percent at the end of November. Kyriakopoulos blamed government inefficiency and predicted that Greece will be asked to return money. «There is no longer any point in asking for CSF large sums if we cannot absorb them,» he said. He welcomed Turkey’s European prospects. «The business world opened the path of communication and dialogue with our Turkish counterparts way before Greek governments did. We are awaiting the developments at the EU summit with great interest.» Deadline for capital repatriation extended A three-month extension will be given beyond the February 4 deadline for the repatriation of Greek capital under favorable terms from abroad, mainly Switzerland, South America and former communist countries, due to marked interest, a top Economy Ministry official said. The ministry is also considering an extension of the incentives for the repatriation of precious metals such as gold, after many such requests by taxpayers. The ministry expects about 20 billion euros to return to Greece with a 3 percent tax going to the state (600 million euros). The repatriation can only be made through credit institutions based in Greece. Salonica loses Expo 2008 The Spanish city of Saragossa was the winner in the three-horse race to host the international exhibition Expo 2008, at yesterday’s voting by the members of the International Bureau of Exhibitions (BIE) in Paris. The Greek representatives hinted however that Thessaloniki will also bid for EXPO 2012. Saragossa’s application was based on the theme of water and sustainable development while Thessaloniki’s was themed «Mother Earth: Agriculture and Food.» In the voting Thessaloniki finished third in the first round gathering only 12 votes and was eliminated. In the runoff Saragossa beat Trieste 57 to 37. PPC must unbundle accounts Greece is being taken to the European Court of Justice for its incorrect application of the European Union Directive on energy market liberalization. Greece’s Public Power Corporation (PPC) had to publish separate accounts for lignite extraction and electricity generation to prevent cross-subsidization which would distort competition, said the European Commission, «as no new entrants have access to lignite deposits for fueling electricity generation». The Commission had warned Greece and PPC last July but no particular action has been taken since.