In Brief

Greeks are middle-ranking EU fraudsters, report reveals Greece holds seventh pace among the old 15 European Union members in cases of fraud perpetrated against the EU budget, data released yesterday by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) show. There were a total of 511 fraud cases against the old member states being investigated in December 31, 2005, the report said, adding that the cases had cost the EU 323 million euros or 1.41 percent of the budget. Most cases involved farm subsidies (93), cigarette contraband (89), customs fraud (86) and VAT (72). Greece accounted for 31 of the cases, the same number as France. The worst offender was Belgium, with 71 cases, while Finland was the most law-abiding member state, with just four cases. The actual number of reports of fraud is far greater: nearly 12,000 complaints were filed last year. Alogoskoufis remains upbeat on economy, stresses utility reform Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday emerged upbeat about the economy from a meeting with the prime minister and said he will present detailed data on the course of the budget on Monday. «The development of the real economy, of employment and the budget is satisfactory. Both revenues and expenses are developing better than the national targets… (but) we must continue efforts in the second half,» he said. He reiterated that the government is putting priority on reforming public companies which a ministerial committee will review next week. Viticulture Greek wine is sold at high prices despite the fact that the country’s vine growers are among the poorest in the EU, Christos Markou, the president of the sector’s Central Association of Cooperatives (KEOSOE), said yesterday. «The explanation of this odd phenomenon leads to only one conclusion: Surplus value has been created by compressing producer prices,» he said. Markou said the EU’s Common Organization for Wine «does not resolve all issues of the sector but addresses positively the challenge of its better organization in the interest of vine growers rather than individual enterprises.» Tourism investment A significant part of European Union investment subsidies will go to the tourism sector under the Fourth Community Support Framework (CSF IV) for the 2007-2014 period, Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia told entrepreneurs at a gathering held by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce yesterday. She promised that through such investment (taking largely the form of public-private partnerships) and the government’s other measures for the tourism sector «Greece in 2008 and 2014 will be far ahead of where it was when we came into office in 2004.» Sfakianakis grows Car dealing group Sfakianakis has won the exclusive rights for importing Suzuki products to Bulgaria, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The listed group is also planning to further its Balkan expansion, while its car market share in Greece now stands at 4.9 percent.