In Brief

EU-compliant 2006 draft budget due on Monday Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis will submit the draft 2006 budget to Parliament on Monday. In line with Greece’s commitment to its European Union partners, it will have a deficit equal to 2.8 percent of Greece’s GDP, down from an estimated 3.7 percent in 2005 and 6.6 percent in 2004. The budget is said to forecast 3.7 percent GDP growth and average inflation of 3 percent next year. In order to lower the deficit, the government mainly depends on the securitization of overdue debt to the state, expected to bring in revenues equal to 1.1 percent of GDP in 2005 and 1 percent in 2006. However, it risks falling afoul of EU injunctions which call upon Greece not to use one-off solutions to improve its fiscal position. The budget also plans to limit government expenditures to 25.8 percent of GDP from 26.7 percent in 2005 and slightly raise spending on the Public Investment Program, which has suffered deep cuts this year. About 5 percent of GDP will be spent on paying interest on Greece’s debt, which is forecast to drop to 103.9 percent of GDP from 107.4 percent in 2005 and 109.3 percent in 2004. Hyatt Regency posts sharply higher H1 net profit Hotel and casino operator Hyatt Regency reported a 78 percent rise in first-half group net profit yesterday, boosted by one-off gains from a stake sale earlier this year. Net profit came in at 39.2 million euros ($47.1 million), boosted by 17 million euros in gains from the sale of a 20.1 percent stake in Lampsa Hotels, owner of the landmark Hotel Grande Bretagne in central Athens, at the start of the year. Gross sales, on which the government levies a gaming tax of around 32 percent, rose 2 percent to 149.4 million euros. The Mont Parnes casino, in which Hyatt holds a 34.3 percent stake, posted a 14.5 percent rise in first-half sales to 70.6 million euros. (Reuters) Athens 12th Athens was ranked 12th among 50 cities worldwide in the «Cities as Brands» survey among 4,000 British consumers, after Vienna and before Hong Kong. The five top spots were given to New York, Sydney, London, Barcelona and Paris. Athens was also rated 10th in terms of the best average hotel room rates for business travelers. Folli-Follie Jewelry retailer Folli-Follie posted a 5 percent rise in group first-half net profit to 29.1 million euros, after the market closed yesterday. Pretax profit after minorities was up 10 percent to 36.7 million euros, with sales up 12 percent to 100.7 million euros. Operations in Asia and Japan accounted for 49 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of group sales, the retailer said. (Reuters) Gastronomy The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE) will unveil its new strategy for the promotion of Greek foodstuffs and beverages at the first Food Industry and Gastronomy conference which is to take place at the Athens Concert Hall tomorrow and Saturday.