ECONOMY

In Brief

Turkey to cut special levy on traveling to Greece An administrative disincentive to Turkish citizens visiting Greece, which has been on the agenda of discussions between the tourism officials of the two countries, seems to be nearing its removal. Turkey has decided to reduce the special levy on visitors to Greece from 50 to 10 euros, reports said. The issue was raised by Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia with her Turkish counterpart at the bilateral tourism forum held in Antalya recently. According to the reports, the matter is awaiting final approval by the Turkish prime minister’s office. About 550,000 Greeks visited Turkey last year, whereas the reverse flow was only about 120,000. Turkish visitors prefer the country’s urban centers, particularly Thessaloniki, and the resorts of Crete, Rhodes and Myconos. Separately, Palli-Petralia yesterday announced that several of Greece’s regional airports are to begin operation on a 24-hour basis. 2007 privatizations plan will include ATEbank The government is planning to sell a further tranche of ATEbank, perhaps up to 20 percent, next year, as part of a drive to gather -1.7 billion from privatizations, sources said. Today, the state’s share in ATEbank is 77.31 percent. Other sales of public assets already scheduled are of OTE telecom and Postal Savings Bank, in which the state’s shares are now 38.78 percent and 55.16 percent respectively. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said on Sunday OTE was the centerpiece of government plans but presented difficulties. «The finding of a strategic investor for OTE is an endeavor that has difficulties and has been attempted in the past without success. I believe conditions today are much better because OTE has adapted to the competitive environment. It has considerable advantages in the Balkans, as well, where, however, it could do even better if it finds a strategic partner,» he said. Croat steel mill Two international bidders have submitted valid binding bids for an indebted steel mill based in the southern Adriatic city of Split, the Croatian privatization fund said yesterday. The two are Armko Smart, a Croatian-Ukrainian consortium, and GM Holdings, a Mauritius-based subsidiary of British steel trading company Stemcor. The state put the mill up for sale for a symbolic price of 1 kuna. However, potential investors were required to repay all of its debts and keep the work force of 482 people for another five years. (Reuters) Olympic Airlines The country’s flag carrier said it is adding to its winter schedule one more flight a week to Bucharest, Sofia, Belgrade, Tirana and Istanbul. Construction costs The cost of building materials for new housing was 6.5 percent higher in October, year-on-year, the National Statistics Service said. The respective increases in the previous two years were 3.3 percent and 4.5 percent respectively.