VAT on new, higher official prices of new buildings in 2006 Value-added tax (VAT) will replace property transfer tax on new buildings as of January 1, 2006 and will apply on the new, officially determined, «objective» property values, which are to be announced in July. Especially for first-time house buyers, VAT will only be 9 percent – as opposed to 19 percent – which is compatible with EU directives. For old buildings, the transfer tax will remain, at a reduced 5 percent rate. The ministry says it is aiming at avoiding imposing extra burdens on taxpayers, and safety clauses will ensure that VAT amounts will be paid to the state. Finance minister wants bipartisan consensus on economic reforms Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday called for the setting up of an all-party commission to discuss and agree on long-term economic reforms. The reforms on which the government will seek consensus would affect the economy over the next 10 or 20 years, he said yesterday at a conference on entrepreneurship. Alogoskoufis did not specify which reforms he wanted the proposed commission to discuss, but implied that social security reform would be one of them. Action on consumer complaints The General Secretariat for Consumers of the Development Ministry has banned the sale of «Pefko Kouketa – Parallili» children’s beds as unsafe, following a consumer’s complaint that his child fell off a bunk bed after the protective rail broke. All stock of this type of bed, sold by Praktiker and made by Drosos Efstathios furniture makers, is to be withdrawn to be made safe. The same agency also imposed a 20,000-euro fine on car importer Nik. I. Theocharakis for misleadingly advertising interest-free payment installments. Alstom French group Alstom presented yesterday in Athens its innovative technologies in the domain of rail transportation. Alstom Transport has participated in a number of large projects in Greece, including the Athens metro and the suburban railway. In 2002, it installed in Greece the European Railways Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and will soon equip suburban rail trains with it. Industrial production down Greek industrial output fell 1.5 percent year-on-year in February, its third decline in as many months, due to contractions in mining and manufacturing output, the country’s statistics service (NSS) said yesterday. Industrial output shrank 1.1 percent in January. MicrosoftMicrosoft Hellas announced its new Customer Service and Technical Support hotlines. For all inquiries, call 801.500.3000 from a landline or 211.120.6500 from a mobile phone. Dynamic Life ended An Athens court has ordered that gym chain Dynamic Life go into receivership, in line with an application by EFG Eurobank Ergasias.