ECONOMY

In Brief

Value-added tax on new buildings highly likely from January 2006 The Finance Ministry is reported to be sticking to its plans to introduce value-added tax (VAT) on new buildings. Yesterday Deputy Finance Minister Adam Regouzas did not rule out imposing possession tax on real estate, which means that all other taxes on property will be abolished, but noted he would first expect the competent committees’ reports, by the end of May, regarding VAT and tax changes on real estate. The main aim is to move the tax burden from property transfer to possession. The new tax will rise progressively from a property threshold, to contribute to wealth redistribution, and all changes will be valid from 1 January 2006 along with the new adjusted values, which are officially set for tax purposes. Greece wins EU refund after court rules fines unacceptable The European Union will have to return about 50 million euros to Greece after the latter won its case in the European Court of Justice against «fiscal corrections» concerning crop subsidies in the 1994-1999 period. The court ruled that the fines imposed by the European Commission for irregularities in grain subsidies were not acceptable. Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Bassiakos, who presented Greece’s case, stated it was the first time the European Court had invalidated such a Commission decision, paving the way for more such claims by Greece regarding fines of considerable amount. Workplace awards Deputy Minister for Development Giorgos Salagoudis is today presenting the «Best Workplaces 2005» awards to the winners of the competition held each year by the Great Place to Work Institute Hellas and the Athens Laboratory of Business Administration (ALBA). The event is to be held at Aegli, in Zappeion, at noon. Lowest fuel prices Greece enjoyed the lowest petrol prices in the eurozone in February, according to data by the International Tourism Association (AIT) and the European Road Information Center (ERIC). Gasoline in Greece was on average 0.81 euros per liter, followed by Spain (0.88 euros/l) and Luxembourg (0.92 euros/l). Most expensive was the Netherlands with 1.26 euros/l. The Greek price for diesel was at 0.79 euros/l on average, beaten only by Luxembourg (0.73 euros/l). The highest price was in Italy, with 1.02 euros/l. Tirana casino One of the four bidders for the 15-year casino license in Tirana, Club Hotel Loutraki, submitted yesterday its extensive business plan to the Albanian authorities. If it wins the tender, it will house the casino on the first floor of the Tirana International Hotel, the country’s largest, which Club Hotel Loutraki has a leasing contract for. The only other bidder is Greece’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. Virginware The Hadzioannou group, listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, has decided to terminate its activity in Great Britain through its Unique Commerce Ltd subsidiary which owned 22 branches of the underwear chain Virginware. The group announced that despite its efforts it could not resist competition pressures after four years of operation.