ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t considering securitization of small part of tax debt Greece may securitize debt owed to the state to a value of up to 1 percent of economic output, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. «We are in contact with the European Union on the terms and conditions for the securitization,» he told reporters, adding that the securitization would take place this year. Alogoskoufis said taxpayers owed the state 17 billion euros ($20.97 billion) and the government did not expect to collect all of it. «The securitization concerns a small proportion (of this amount) which will not exceed 1 percent of GDP,» he said. National Statistics Service data showed Greece’s gross domestic product totaled 111.7 billion euros in 2004. Economic output in the first half of 2005 came to 57.4 billion euros. Greece’s total borrowing this year is projected at about 33-35 billion euros. (Reuters) One-third of plans under investment incentives law approved A total of 372 investment plans, budgeted at a total of 873.1 million euros, have been submitted for approval of subsidization under the government’s investment incentives law, introduced in March, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. The ministry has already approved 123 plans totaling 223.5 million and projected to create 1,170 jobs. Certified auditors The Greek market for certified auditors services in 2004 remained at about the same size as in 2003, at 124.5 million euros, according to a study by Hellastat. The Certified Auditors’ Partnership (SOL) captured the lion’s share, signing 50.5 percent of 7,093 firms’ balance sheets processed by Hellastat. Its turnover, 42.6 million euros, represented 34.2 percent of the total of 19 firms of certified auditors. BKR was in second place with 17.6 percent of balance sheets, while the four large multinational firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte, which audited 14 percent of balance sheets, mainly offered their services to large corporations. Their revenue approached 43 percent of the total. Hellastat estimates the introduction of International Financial Reporting Standards will bring significant growth rates in the sector and related ones. Tourism scam An international racket that is duping hoteliers through e-mail booking messages, forged documents and credit cards has hit Greek shores. According to the Attica Hoteliers’ Association president Giorgos Tsakiris, there have been several complaints that bogus travel agents or pilgrimage tourism organizations based abroad make bookings for large groups through e-mail and follow them up with the dispatch of checks that exceed the value of the bookings, or with the provision of data on credit cards that are to be charged. They subsequently press for a return of the amounts supposedly overcharged, in which they have usually succeeded before the duped hoteliers realize that the checks were dud or the credit cards forged. Intracom Telecoms equipment maker Intracom has increased its stake in alternative telephony maker FORTHnet to 20.5 percent, adding a further 2.01 percent acquired by its subsidiary, Databank. This is a further indication of Intracom’s apparent intention to seek control of FORTHnet, which will effectively bring it into competition with the country’s main fixed-line client OTE.