ECONOMY

In Brief

Travel agents call for government help The government is showing indifference to the serious problems threatening the country’s approximately 4,500 travel agents since the September 11 attacks on the US, their association (HATTA) charged yesterday. It said its members throughout the country were considering hiring only seasonal staff, while a number of them had already been shut down or were considering suspending operations. HATTA called for wage subsidies, «which the government, unfortunately, does not understand, unlike other European governments,» and threatened with mobilizations if its call for «immediate measures continues being ignored.» Funds for Equal to start flowing soon The Labor Ministry will soon start disbursing funds in implementation of the EU initiative against social exclusion «Equal,» following the approval of 40 of the 271 proposals submitted, Minister Dimitris Reppas said yesterday. The government is anxious to ensure transparency and effectiveness and so the total of 140 million euros will be disbursed only gradually until 2006, and depending on requirements as they arise. The initiative includes a 21-million-euro program for the teaching of Greek to immigrants. Equal’s targets include the promotion of equal opportunities in employment for women and disadvantaged groups. Info-Quest merger Shareholders of IT firm Info-Quest and fully-owned subsidiary Quest Wireless yesterday approved a plan for the absorption of the latter by the former, a press release said. «The merger achieves single management of fixed and mobile telecommunication services with a view to maximizing operating synergies and attaining economies of scale,» said the statement. Quest Wireless last year acquired a 3.5 GHz band fixed wireless license, while Infoquest, the owner of Greece’s fourth second-generation mobile phones, has said it plans a commercial launch of fixed and mobile phone services later this year. In another statement, the company said it has undertaken planning and implementation of a telecoms solution based on ‘Voice over IP’ technology for the 40 branches of Probank, projected for opening by year-end. Promota grows in Europe Recently listed advertising and promotional gifts distributor Promota Hellas will act as a buying office from the Far East for 14 companies in 13 European countries following recent contacts in Dusseldorf, Germany, the firm said in a press release. Companies from Chile and Mexico have also accepted the proposal. Promota has the largest data bank of its kind in the world, Dorothea, and aims to become the biggest firm in its sector in Europe within two years, the firm said. General Bank, GEK join forces General Bank said yesterday it was teaming up with construction firm GEK in the area of property development. The bank said in a statement GEK will buy up to 49 percent of its subsidiary Genap, which will deal in property development. Genap’s activities will include offering advice on real estate issues, property management and leasing, the bank said.(Reuters)