Property transfers breathe life into Greek budget revenues The explosive increase in property transactions proved a lifeline for budget revenues in August, as provisional figures by the Finance Ministry show a 10 percent rise. The main reasons for this are the government’s intention to introduce value-added tax starting in 2006 on newly built properties as well as people’s uncertainty because the new bill on real estate has not been made public yet. Many Greeks rushed to transfer their properties to their children to save as much as possible on tax. Public coffers also benefitted from state dividends and the amounts paid by freelancers for tax cases from the 1998-2002 period. Separately, the general director for income taxation, Dimitris Levakos, yesterday asked tax authorities across the country to immediately check all outstanding property cases, especially those that are nearing their limitations term. Alpha Bank outperforms in currency parity forecasting LONDON (Reuters) – Alpha Bank made the most accurate forecasts for one-month dollar rates in the August Reuters foreign exchange poll. Forecasts made by Alpha Bank in Athens diverged on average by 0.39 percent from the actual close on August 31, the last trading day of the month. Alpha Bank had forecast sterling to end August at $1.7850, the euro at $1.2350 and the dollar at 110.50 yen in the survey taken August 1-3. That compared with actual rates of sterling at $1.8033, the euro at $1.2343 and the dollar at 110.61 yen. Rabobank in London was runner-up with a 0.40 percent divergence while BCP in Geneva claimed third place with a 0.48 percent divergence. Shelman loan The Bank of Trade and Development of the Black Sea is crediting Greek listed timber company Shelman with a 15-million-euro loan, which will fund the company’s plant modernization and the broadening of its client base in the Black Sea. Shelman, Greece’s biggest timber firm, with 40 years in the domain, provides the industrial, construction, furniture-making and shipping sectors with timber products. The Bank of the Black Sea, based in Thessaloniki, was created by 11 countries in the region. KIA recall The general secretary for consumers, Thanassis Skordas, announced yesterday the recall of KIA Sportage cars produced between March 29 and May 18 this year so they could be checked for faulty handbrakes. This applies to 175 vehicles imported to Greece, out of which 85 have already been sold. Owners need to refer to their local KIA authorized repairer in order to have the lever substituted for free. Best Western hotels Two more hotels in Greece have entered the international Best Western hotel chain, bringing its hotels in this country to 24. They are the Saint George Hotel at Asprovalta, Thessaloniki, and the Rozos Hotel at Porto Heli in the eastern Peloponnese. President and General Director of Best Western Greece Carol Marriott said, «The addition of two new Greek hotels to our chain signifies the rapid development of Best Western in our country.» The chain operates 4,122 hotels around the world.