In Brief

Bank workers continue standoff over pay pact and fund reform Bank workers’ representatives yesterday demanded from Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis that the government force banks to meet their legal obligation to engage in collective negotiations for a pay pact for the sector as a whole. Banks have refused, preferring individual pacts. The representatives also stressed the need for a tripartite dialogue on social insurance reform, warning that the Federation of Bank Employee Associations (OTOE) will not tolerate any additions to last year’s law integrating bank workers’ social insurance funds into one, which they described as «illegal and unconstitutional.» Separately, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said the law will come into effect shortly. Lignite mining to open to private firms for first time Lignite mining will be opened to private operators for the first time, ending the monopoly of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) which has long used it as main source of fuel for its plants. The Development Ministry said it will soon issue two tenders, beginning with the Florina deposit, estimated to hold 95 million tons. The second tender concerns the Elassona deposit, holding 190 million tons and projected to have a life of about 90 years. PPC, which is said to be interested in constructing a second power plant in Florina, will be able to participate in the tenders. The tender is expected to be very competitive due to lignite’s low cost compared to natural gas. Hyatt quits Tirana Casino operator Hyatt, Greece’s biggest, said yesterday it sold its 30.6 percent stake in a recently opened Albanian casino after the country’s move to sharply raise gaming taxes last year. Hyatt said in a stock market filing it sold its stake in Gaming Investments Overseas Holdings to Cypriot Tobias Enterprises Company Ltd for 3 million euros. It also got back a 9.6-million-euro guarantee. Gaming Investments Overseas held a 51 percent share in the Tirana casino. (Reuters) Interest rates The National Bank of Greece yesterday announced a 0.25 percent increase in deposit rates for salary earners and pensioners to 0.75 percent (for sums up to 5,000 euros) and cuts in its fixed mortgage rates. The rates for other deposits, amounting to between 30,000 and 60,000 euros, also go up by 0.25 percent and by 0.10 percent for sums between 15,000 and 30,000 euros. Forthnet Internet service provider and telecoms operator Forthnet yesterday posted a net loss of 1.13 million euros for last year, compared with a profit of 450,487 euros a year earlier. «The cost of acquiring new subscribers came to about 3.7 million euros, burdening 2005 results,» Forthnet said in a statement. Revenues rose 13.6 percent to 91.56 million euros. (Reuters)