ECONOMY

In Brief

C/A deficit widens in Q1 as all components worsen Greece’s current account deficit in the first three months of 2005 widened by 1.651 billion euros year-on-year to hit 3.829 billion, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said yesterday. «In March, the current account deficit rose by 838 million euros year-on-year. This development is the outcome of a worsening in all component balances and mainly the large fall in the transfers surplus and a considerable rise in the income account deficit,» BoG said. «Underlying the widening of the trade deficit was mainly a substantial rise in net payments for the purchase of oceangoing vessels and an increase in the net oil import bill. By contrast, the trade deficit excluding oil and ships narrowed.» It also noted that the income account deficit grew substantially, mainly as a result of an increase in interest payments on government bonds and loans. The decline in the transfers surplus mainly reflected a decrease in net EU transfers to the government. Preparations for pipeline construction get under way Sofia is hosting a two-day meeting from tomorrow regarding the construction of the oil pipeline to link the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek port of Alexandroupolis. The group of firms involved will set up an international company to implement the project, and meet the heads of the tripartite committee (Greek-Russian-Bulgarian) for the advancement of the project, as provided by the three governments’ agreement signed last month in the Bulgarian capital. Yesterday, delegations from the three countries visited Alexandroupolis. Today they head to Burgas. The Greek group is led by Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Salagoudis. Cheapest fuel Greece continued to enjoy the lowest petrol prices in the eurozone in April, according to the International Tourism Association (AIT) and the European Road Information Center (ERIC). Unleaded gasoline in Greece was on average 0.81 euros per liter, followed by Spain (0.92 euros/l) and Luxembourg (0.99 euros/l). Most expensive was the Netherlands with 1.32 euros/l. The Greek price for diesel was at 0.79 euros/l on average, followed by Luxembourg (0.82 euros/l) and Portugal (0.87 euros/l). The highest price was in Italy, with 1.12 euros/l. Laiki profits Cyprus’s Laiki Bank group posted a 51.4 percent yearly increase in first-quarter pretax profits yesterday, bolstered by revenue from higher interest charges for its services and a lowering of provisions. The group also said it anticipated a significant improvement in profitability for the whole year based on the robust outlook for the Cypriot economy in 2005. Pretax profit for the first quarter rose to 11.83 million Cyprus pounds (20.5 million euros) over 7.81 million in the same quarter of 2004. (Reuters) Fine boats Tax authorities will invite 7,566 recreational boat owners to answer and pay hefty fines for concealing their boat purchases in 2003, as cross-checking with the Port Authorities, the 2004 income statements and the TAXIS register has shown. This means more than half of all 14,782 boat buyers (51.18 percent) in 2003 did not to declare their purchase.