ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t goes all out to net tax evaders The Finance Ministry is to cross-check income declarations for 2004, following an upgrading of the capacity of its electronic Taxis network, officials said. The checks will target incongruities between incomes declared and property assets, such as real estate, pleasure boats and luxury cars. The officials said that preliminary checks have indicated that a large number of taxpayers spend much more than they declare, evidently the result of tax evasion. The intensive cross-checks will be comprehensive and will use a number of sources, not simply the income declarations. Emphasis will be placed on declarations submitted electronically, as initial controls indicate that tax-deductible expenses entered in them, particularly regarding healthcare and private insurance, are higher than on the hand-filled forms. Business declarations of the self-employed will also be subjected to intensive scrutiny. Ministers get to grips with privatization plans Senior ministers yesterday discussed the privatization plans for gaming firm OPAP, the Postal Savings Bank and the Bank of Attica. Parliament is expected to approve an amendment for the reduction of the state’s stake in OPAP from 51 to 34 percent. Those 17 percent of shares will be sold in Greece and abroad, as will some 20 to 30 percent of shares of the Postal Savings Bank toward the year’s end. The Labor Ministry intends to sell the Bank of Attica shares owned by the Deposits and Loans Fund and the Postal Savings Bank. Closed-end funds Shares of most of Greece’s 19 closed-end funds traded at discounts to their underlying net asset value (NAV) in March, the Association of Institutional Investors said yesterday. The association said 16 of the listed investment funds traded at discounts, ranging from 0.41 to 47.9 percent, and only one – National Investments – at a premium. The weighted average discount was 9 percent. The listed funds had a combined 1.28 billion euros in assets under management, down 9.2 percent from February. Closed-end funds, unlike open-end mutual funds, have a set number of shares. They trade like other securities. (Reuters) Mutual funds Greek mutual fund investors pulled cash out of domestic money market and stock funds in March, while inflows were seen in foreign bond funds, the Association of Institutional Investors said yesterday. Large outflows in domestic money market and balanced funds and sizable inflows in foreign bond and money market funds were mainly the result of changes in classification, the association said. Overall March net outflows reached 152 million euros. The industry’s total assets under management came to 31.5 billion euros, down from 31.8 billion in February and down 1.5 percent since the start of 2005. (Reuters) Drinks contract renewed V.S. Karoulias and US-based Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide announced the renewal of their agreement that will see the former continue to distribute in Greece the latter’s internationally renowned alcoholic drinks, such as Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort and Finlandia Vodka. The new deal is valid from May 1, 2005.