ECONOMY

In Brief

Digital gap widening in Greece between Athens and provinces Athens may enjoy relatively high penetration of computer use and Internet access, but the Greek countryside lags considerably, creating a digital gap in the country. Data presented to commemorate International Telecommunications Day yesterday by the Observatory for the Greek Information Society shows 43.7 percent of households use a computer and 31.8 percent have access to the Internet in Athens, but this drops to 23.2 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively, in the Peloponnese. In total, 20.8 percent of people surveyed said they use the Internet, mainly to seek information on products and services, while 70 percent said they use e-mail. Unemployment still dropping, thanks to ‘active policies’ The decline in recorded unemployment continued in April, dropping by 52,177 people, or 10.2 percent year-on-year, Deputy Labor Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos announced yesterday. The Manpower Organization (OAED) recorded 459,808 unemployed people last month, from 511,985 in April 2005 and 554,532 in April 2004. Giakoumatos attributed the decline to «the new philosophy at OAED and the parallel application of active employment policies.» Yesterday Giakoumatos and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, decided to increase subsidies to 1,000 new self-employed (aged 18-64) for beginning businesses outside Athens and Thessaloniki, and to 1,000 self-employed from large families, from 9,000 euros to 12,000 euros. Inflation rise Inflation in Greece rose from 3.3 percent in March to 3.5 percent in April, in harmony with the rest of the EU, according to Eurostat data issued yesterday. In the eurozone, inflation rose to 2.4 percent last month from 2.2 percent the month before and in the EU it reached 2.3 percent in April from 2.1 percent in March. The highest figures were recorded in Latvia (6.1 percent) and in Slovakia (4.4 percent), while the lowest were in Poland (1.2 percent) and Finland (1.5 percent). Russian energy Russia intends to extend its contract to supply natural gas to Greece to beyond 2016, Russian Ambassador in Athens Andrey Vdovin stated yesterday. He also praised Greece’s role as an energy bridge between East and West and assured that, despite delays in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, all is well and construction will begin soon. Vdovin further noted that Greek-Russian trade can grow far more than the $4 billion recorded in 2005. E-tax More than 200,000 income tax declarations have been submitted via the Internet this year, which is more than 50 percent higher than in the same period last year. Electronic submissions for other tax obligations reached even greater percentages compared with previous years. The most important asset of electronic submission is the immediate issuance of a tax receipt.