In Brief

Greek GDP expands by 4.4 pct in Q4 2006 Greece’s gross domestic product rose an unexpectedly strong 4.4 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2006, boosted by strong consumer spending, exports and investments, the government said yesterday. A provisional estimate by the National Statistics Service showed that consumer spending, which accounts for four-fifths of the economy, rose 2.7 percent on the year to 31.6 billion euros. Investments and exports both jumped sharply in the fourth quarter, year-on-year. Investment spending rose 9.9 percent on the year to 11.23 billion euros, while exports were up 10.9 percent at 8 billion euros. Imports also rose sharply, up 9.3 percent on the year to 12.12 billion euros. Since mid-2004, the Greek economy has been buoyed by an explosion in consumer spending that has fueled growth but also led to a ballooning current account deficit. Figures released on Tuesday by the Bank of Greece showed the country’s current account deficit reached 12.1 percent of GDP in 2006. Final GDP estimates for 2006 will be released March 1. (AP) OTE telecom to appeal regulator fine OTE telecom will appeal a fine imposed by the telecoms regulator, it said yesterday. The Telecommunications and Post Commission earlier this week imposed a 3-million-euro fine on OTE for violating a carrier preselection rule, OTE said in a statement. «The fine is based on a regulation that is no longer in effect and creates false impressions,» OTE said. «OTE will use every legal means against this unprecedented decision.» (Reuters) Cyprus budget deficit Cyprus turned in a lower-than-expected budget deficit for 2006 representing 1.4 percent of gross domestic product, data showed yesterday, the day after it officially applied to join the eurozone. The figure released by the statistics department is an improvement on earlier indications of the year ending with a shortfall of 1.5 percent. Cyprus recorded a budget deficit of 2.3 percent of GDP in 2005. Under EU rules, a candidate for adoption of the euro must keep its budget deficit to below 3 percent of gross domestic product. (Reuters) EU fraud ring European Union newcomer Bulgaria uncovered an international crime ring on Tuesday that siphoned 7.5 million euros in EU aid funds over the past two years, police and prosecution officials said. Five Bulgarians, two Germans and two Swiss citizens have been detained in a joint operation carried out in the three countries and coordinated by the EU fraud-busting unit OLAF, after a six-month investigation, prosecutor Boiko Naidenov said. (Reuters)