ECONOMY

In Brief

Unemployment rate rises as post-Olympic impact grows Unemployment in Greece climbed to 10.4 percent in the last quarter of 2004, compared to 10.1 percent in the previous quarter and 9.9 in the same quarter in 2003, National Statistics Service data showed. Joblessness was higher among women (16.1 percent) than men (6.4 percent), and among people aged 15-29 (20.4 percent). The data show only 34.4 percent of unemployed people seek exclusively full-time work, while 84.5 percent would settle for part-time jobs. Just 12.9 percent rejected job proposals, mainly due to unsatisfactory work location, payment or career prospects. Long-term unemployment (over a year) posted a slight drop in the October-December period, falling to 55.7 percent from 57.6 percent in the previous quarter. Missing clues for Athens hotels’ low occupancy rates Athens hotel occupancy rates fell in February compared to the same month in 2004, except for three-star hotels. Athens Hotel Association (EXA) data showed five-star hotels down to 33.2 percent (from 43.8 percent a year before), four-star down to 34.9 percent (from 67.3 percent), three-star up to 67.2 percent (from 59.9 percent) and two-star down to 36.2 percent (from 39.8 percent). Athens posted the greatest yearly decline in Europe that month, 7.8 percent, when most cities showed gains. «Nothing shows that these hotels are in the city that staged the most successful Olympics seven months ago. Something is not being done right. Hotels offer a product above prices and expectations; the government is trying but the synergies, the coordination and the efficiency are missing,» EXA said in a statement. OPAP Parliament passed legislation late yesterday allowing the state to reduce its 51 percent stake in OPAP, Europe’s biggest gaming group, to as low as 34 percent. The Finance Ministry had said proceeds from any share sales will be used to pay down public debt, among the highest in the European Union. The government is targeting 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion) from state divestments this year. A sale of OPAP shares would be the fourth since the gaming group went public in April 2001. The company has a monopoly on domestic betting games until 2020. (Reuters) Dubai visit Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis is visiting Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for high-level talks on merchant marine, trade and tourism issues. He is said to be keen to pursue the creation of bilateral consortiums in sea transport and port projects. Doukas in US Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas today is due to speak at Harvard University and MIT in Boston on «Regaining Greece’s Competitiveness.» Yesterday, he addressed a luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington on the Greek post-Olympic investment opportunities. Agriculture Harvard alumnus Manuel Stefanakis, president of the Thessaloniki Agricultural and Industrial Institute, will address the Harvard Club of Greece at a dinner on Tuesday, April 19, at 8.30 p.m. at the St George Lycabettus hotel in Athens. His subject will be «The Challenge of Sustainable Development: What is Next for Greek Agriculture?»