ECONOMY

In Brief

Traders increasingly worried over dock strikes Many regional ports which have received a large number of containers destined for Piraeus – where go-slow action by stevedores has caused a severe backlog – are reported to be considering levying a 15 percent surcharge. This is seen as likely to cause steep price increases as the Christmas shopping season gets under way, even profiteering, according to market circles. The problem is exacerbated by a truckdrivers’ blockade of the container station. The Piraeus Chamber of Commerce has called a meeting of commercial chambers and other traders’ agencies on Monday, November 27, to examine the situation and look for ways to limit surcharges, which are certain to be imposed, to 15 percent. Erdogan says no concessions on fiscal discipline ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s government will not make concessions on fiscal discipline ahead of general elections scheduled for November next year, or afterward, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday. «There is some speculation as to whether there will be an election budget for 2007… We did not make any concessions on fiscal discipline (in the past) and will not do so in the future,» he told a World Economic Forum conference in Istanbul. Turkey has exceeded this year’s allocated budget expenditure for civil servants, health, social security transfers and agricultural subsidies. The government cut investment spending to 11 billion lira for 2006, from 12.5 billion lira in the original budget plan. Piraeus raises stake Piraeus Bank raised its stake in Piraeus Bank Egypt, its Egyptian subsidiary, by 1.9 percent to 95.3 percent by buying shares held by Libya’s foreign investment company, Piraeus Bank Egypt said yesterday. The Greek bank paid 18 million Egyptian pounds ($3.1 million) to increase its stake from 93.4 percent, valuing the current holding at 477 million pounds. «It is their strategy to acquire a greater stake in the bank,» said Mash’at Abdel Aziz, head of investor relations at Piraeus Bank Egypt. (Reuters) Hellenic Duty Free results Retailer Hellenic Duty Free Shops (HDFS) said yesterday its nine-month net profit rose 10 percent, thanks to strong business at Athens airport and a British acquisition. HDFS, with exclusive rights to run duty-free retail stores at border crossings in Greece until 2048, said net profits rose to 35.9 million euros. Sales increased 9.2 percent to 217.4 million euros as strong wholesale activity and the consolidation of British jeweler Links of London offset lower duty-free fuel sales. HDFS stopped selling tax-free fuel to departing non-EU drivers at two Greek border crossings after the government revoked its permit in April, citing fuel-smuggling risks. The company has gone to court to reissue the permit. (Reuters) Serbia repays early Serbia’s central bank said yesterday it had told the International Monetary Fund it would fully repay its remaining debt of $469 million by March 2007, three years early. The first installment would be made in late 2006 and the second in March 2007, the bank said in a statement.