ECONOMY

In Brief

Unemployment edges down in third quarter Greece’s jobless rate eased to 10.1 percent in the third quarter of 2004 from 10.2 percent in the second quarter, the country’s statistics service (NSS) said yesterday. The unemployment figures were based on a sample survey of Greece’s labor force, conducted in accordance with the rules of EU statistics service Eurostat. The country’s jobless rate in the first quarter of last year was 11.3 percent. The 12 countries sharing the euro had an overall jobless rate of 8.9 percent in December, meaning about 12.7 million people without jobs. Spain and Germany were the only other two eurozone economies with double-digit unemployment – 10.4 and 10.0 percent respectively in December – according to Eurostat. The long-term unemployed, defined by the NSS as people out of work for more than 12 months, made up 57.6 percent of the total number of jobless Greeks, indicating that structural unemployment remains a problem despite an expanding economy. (Reuters) Gov’t sets details for optional settlement of outstanding taxes The Finance Ministry yesterday issued a circular with application details of the optional system, introduced as of January 1, for firms and the self-employed to settle outstanding tax cases from past fiscal years. The measure, which this year will only apply for 2003 and 2004, applies to productive or commercial enterprises whose gross revenue was up to 300,000 euros, service companies and self-employed with gross revenue up to 150,000 euros, and self-employed people who also engage in commercial activities. Those opting to settle under the arrangement will be able to calculate any one-off payments by themselves according to a formula based on the set net unit profit rates applying to their trade. (Reuters) Germanos Phone and accessories retailer Germanos said yesterday that full-year 2004 net profit rose 19.4 percent, bolstered by a growing mobile phone market and its expansion abroad. The group’s earnings came in at 53.9 million euros ($71.13 million), slightly above analysts’ expectations. Analysts were forecasting a 17 percent rise in full-year group profit to 52.9 million euros. Group profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 15.4 percent to 90.4 million euros with group sales advancing to 859.8 million euros, up from 707 million in the same period a year earlier. Germanos has around 830 outlets in Greece and abroad, and plans to increase the network to around 1,000 by the end of 2005. (Reuters) EXPO 2005 Greece will take part in EXPO 2005 in Japan with its own stand, devoted to the theme «nature-measure-human.» The exhibition starts on March 25 and lasts six months. The Greek participation’s logo is the olive tree, the symbol of peace and welfare. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said Greece will exhibit products and services with organization and coordination as it focuses on extroversion, opening itself to the world with modern promotion of products and services. 30-year bond Greece plans to issue its first 30-year government bond in the near future, lead managers BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and the National Bank of Greece said yesterday. Greece is rated A by both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. (Reuters)