ECONOMY

In Brief

Ministers tell utility heads to tidy up their act The heads of public utilities will be warned there will be minimal tolerance in case of deliberate procrastination in the implementation of the labor reform law aimed at stemming spiraling deficits, sources said after a ministerial meeting yesterday. The process, which has an end-of-April deadline, appears to be stalled due to lack of preparation as well as internal issues, and there has been speculation of an extension. The law provides for pay raises up to 3 percent and for less favorable terms of contract for new hirings. «We shall not budge an inch from the strict implementation of the law, as citizens will be the first to benefit,» said Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said the law is the biggest reform during the government’s two-year tenure and is key to improving competitiveness. Commission urged to act on excessive mobile charges New Democracy Euro-MP Costis Hadzidakis yesterday called on the European Commission to intervene in reducing the cost of mobile telephone calls in Greece. In a response to Hadzidakis earlier this month the Commission showed Greek mobile networks’ charges for calls between cell phones or from fixed-to-mobile were excessive compared to elsewhere in the EU, ranging between 15 and 18 cents against nine and 11 cents. Hadzidakis notes that Greeks may be paying up to 50 percent more for about half of the calls they make. Folli-Follie Jewelry retailer Folli-Follie yesterday posted a 5 percent rise in group 2005 net profit to 56.7 million euros. The firm had initially given guidance for a 10-15 percent rise in 2005 net profit and sales, but its vice president told Reuters last month that earnings growth of 10 percent was more likely, due to the euro’s strength versus Asian currencies. Folli-Follie, which designs, produces and sells jewelry, watches and accessories, implemented an aggressive roll-out strategy, mainly in Asia, last year, bringing its total network to about 300 outlets. Sales in its key market, Japan, and the rest of Asia accounted for 24 percent and 40 percent of total sales respectively. The jeweler said it would propose a 0.26 euro per share dividend for 2005. (Reuters) New Hilton manager The Athens Hilton has appointed Bart van de Winkel as its new general manager, after the departure of Gianni Riatsch. Van de Winkel was vice president of Food & Beverage at Hilton International UK & Ireland. He is married to a Greek Cypriot.