In Brief

Simitis, Kok say EU small businesses need support Greece and the Netherlands yesterday called on the European Union to speed up efforts to improve the business environment for small enterprises which in turn will create new jobs and increase competition. «The important contribution of new businesses and small enterprises to the labor market, to competition and development are widely recognized,» Greek and Dutch premiers Costas Simitis and Wim Kok said in a joint letter to EU president Spain asking for a study to develop a more effective business environment for small enterprises. «This could create more jobs, revive local businesses and economies for less developed or remote areas,» they said. Simitis and Kok said the upcoming Barcelona summit should encourage the Commission to prepare a study on small European enterprises because Greece has agreed to a ministerial meeting during its presidency in 2003 on small businesses. (Reuters) Traders, self-employed agree on additional taxes Traders and the self-employed yesterday called off a threat to shut shops tomorrow after a meeting by representatives with Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, with whom they thrashed out a plan to irrevocably close accounts for the 1993-98 period, and to file special notes for the 1999-2001 period for the calculation of any outstanding VAT payments. The measure involves about 740,000 taxpayers and the ministry estimates to boost revenues by 4.4 billion euros. Meanwhile, Christodoulakis said the government would not adopt any new arrangement for compound interest affecting non-performing loans, and banks were in a position to distinguish between simply large debtors and those deliberately avoiding repayment. Low confidence Only 21 percent of Greeks and Portuguese consider their rights as consumers are sufficiently protected – the lowest rate among EU countries, according to a study by the European Commission released yesterday in view of Consumers’ Day on Friday. By contrast, 82 percent of Finns and 75 percent of Britons expressed confidence in consumer protection regulations in their countries. Italians, Greeks and Portuguese also think they are better protected outside their home countries. The study was conducted January 14-31 and involved 15,043 EU citizens Tourism Ambassador Jean Maurice Ripert yesterday reported strong interest among his fellow-nationals for ecological and cultural tourism in Greece during a visit to Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos. The Greek minister will meet French counterpart Jacques Brunhes during an international meeting in Paris on Thursday on «Tourism, Ethics and Globalization.» Yesterday he also received Chinese Economic and Commercial Counselor Sui Hui for a discussion of bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector. HR alliance The Greek subsidiaries of human resource management firm Manpower and of consultancy SHL Group yesterday announced a strategic alliance, aiming at strengthening their leading market positions.

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