IKA workers say lost contributions more than deficit The Social Security Foundation (IKA) loses annually an estimated 146 million euros in contributions due, while its deficit in 2001 was about 88 million euros, officials of the national federation of IKA workers (POSE) said at a press briefing yesterday. One in seven firms is unregistered and about 20 percent of workers are not covered by social insurance, POSE said. The situation is made worse by the fact that many immigrant workers only pay for the minimum of 50 work days required to obtain an extension of the permit to stay but continue to work and make use of IKA’s health facilities, the officials said. They called for the speedy hiring of 3,500 staff, the lack of which has caused only four of 13 monitoring departments to be in operation, and those with only 50 percent of the staff required. The lack of staff is also the cause of delays in the granting of pensions, which requires an average of 10 months while 62,000 applications are pending. POSE warned of new delays as of February 11 when employers will start submitting their analytic periodic statements. January car sales lower than last year Hyundai rose to first place in private car sales in January with 2,777 cars, or a 10.3-percent market share, according to data of the Car Dealers and Importers Association (SEEA). Toyota was in second place with 2,416, Peugeot third with 2,298 and Citroen fifth with 2,176. Opel, last year’s leader, was in fifth with 1,974. Total sales were up 116 percent from December 2001 but 8.2 percent lower from January 2001. SEEA Chairman Andreas Andrikopoulos said he expected sales to be around 3.5-7.0 percent lower this year than in 2001. Fine on mobile operators upheld The Council of State yesterday rejected the requests of mobile operators Panafon (now Vodafone) and Stet Hellas for a temporary suspension of fines of 146,000 euros and of an order banning their provision of certain telecommunications services. The penalties had been imposed by the National Telecommunications and Posts Commission in February 2001. The Council rejected their requests on the grounds that they had been given a seven-month adjustment period but without result. ATE-Gerling deal The Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) group and German insurer Gerling are expected to finalize a joint venture deal in credit insurance next week, sources said yesterday. Gerling, which is already represented in Greece by Gerling Hellas and Gerling Speziale, will assume the management in the new company. The group recently merged with the also German NCM company. Easier labor funds investment Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told labor leaders yesterday he was keen to abolish time-consuming procedures presently hampering the investment of the reserves of social security funds and to restrict the prominent role of the Bank of Greece in their management. ELKE does not plan to interfere in the construction of infrastructure related to the Olympics; this is the job of Athens 2004, the Games organizers. Rather, it attempts to take advantage of the added interest in Greece and the windfall from what it hopes will be a successful Olympics.