ECONOMY

In Brief

Jobless rate declined further in the year’s first quarter Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday that the country’s jobless rate slipped further to 9.5 percent in the first quarter of the year, from 9.7 percent in the last quarter of 2005. He also announced that investment has increased by 6.9 percent according to National Statistics Service data. Alogoskoufis added that most of the new 20-billion-euro package for development will be distributed in the countryside, aimed at sustainable development, employment, social and regional cohesion and the promotion of real convergence with the EU’s more developed economies. Measures to ensure absorption of all Greek milk production The Agricultural Development and Food Ministry announced that milk industries will absorb all local production and an effort will be made to revert prices for producers to last year’s levels. Following a broad meeting yesterday including all parties concerned, the ministry also said it will try to reduce production costs that are particularly high in Greece compared with other EU states. This is due to the high cost of animal feed compared to the size of production units and milk production rates. The ministry wants to set up a single cooperative of milk producers and impose noting the production farm on pasteurized milk cartons. Turkish inflation Turkish Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said yesterday Turkey had no plans to change its inflation targets, after May inflation came near 10 percent, compared to a 2006 year-end target of 5 percent. «There is no question of changing the inflation targets,» Unakitan stated. (Reuters) Illegal fuel trade Up to 50 percent of the fuel in the domestic market is adulterated, with turnover from illegal trade of such fuel ranging from 1.5 billion euros to 2.8 billion euros per year. Elinoil’s marketing director, Yiannis Diamantopoulos, said yesterday that his company’s data show illegal fuel reaching 28 percent across Greece and 50 percent in several areas. Gasoline station association president Dimitris Makrivelios did not deny that claim and put some of the blame on fuel-trading companies. Insurance growth Insurance production grew by 6.8 percent last year, according to a Hellastat report, reaching 3.9 billion euros. The rise is deemed satisfactory, but lags the 12 percent annually seen between 2002 and 2004. Total net revenues rose by 7.9 percent, taking gross results to 422.68 million euros (a 32 percent rise). New Stealth ship Stealth Gas, of the Vafias group, added a 28th ship to its fleet, a liquefied petroleum gas vessel costing $9.4 million and with a capacity of 3,300 cubic meters.