ECONOMY

In Brief

EU clears 550 mln euros aid for Greek highways BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission gave the green light yesterday for 550 million euros in aid Greece is being granted for a highways upgrade. «The Commission considers that grants for the construction and upgrading of the road infrastructure in Greece do not constitute state aid,» the European Union executive said in a statement. The funds are to be given to consortium Apion Kleos. The Commission monitors whether aid granted by EU governments is in line with the bloc’s competition rules. Ankara delays welfare bill implementation to October ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s IMF-backed reform of its social security system will go into effect from October, rather than August as previously planned, parliament decided yesterday. Analysts say the current system is unsustainable as it encourages early retirement. Under the much-delayed reform, the retirement age will gradually be raised to 65 from the current 48 years for men and 44 years for women. The time required to prepare the infrastructure for the reformed system is the cause of the change in implementation date, the text of the amendment said. Bulgaria power exports Bulgaria can regain its position as a leading power exporter in Southeastern Europe in 2010 thanks to new generating capacity, a senior official at the dominant state power utility NEK said yesterday. NEK’s executive director, Mardik Papazian, said that new power units with a total capacity of 750 megawatts will be plugged into the national grid in 2010, allowing the Balkan country to boost electricity exports. Once the main power exporter in the Balkans, Bulgaria was forced to reduce exports sharply last year and this year after the closure of two 440-megawatt nuclear power reactors in 2006, which was a condition for European Union membership. (Reuters) Coal-fired plant Three foreign and two Bulgarian companies have expressed interest in bidding in an open auction for a 630-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Bulgaria, the privatization agency said yesterday. Belgium’s Electrabel, controlled by Suez, Greek companies Damco Energy and Sencap, a joint venture of Public Power Corporation (PPC), and US energy company ContourGlobal, have bought documents to bid for the Bobov Dol plant on June 26. The other two suitors are Bulgarian Minna Kompania and Consortium Energia, the agency said. (Reuters) Piraeus Bank distinction Piraeus Bank received Microsoft’s «Windows in Financial Services Developer Award 2008» in a special ceremony in New York in the context of the 6th Annual Microsoft Financial Services Conference. Piraeus was the sole European company to receive the award among five recipients. The project for which Piraeus was selected was «winbank international.» It is the Greek bank’s first international distinction. Turk jewelry exports Gold jewelry exports from Turkey, one of the world’s largest exporters of the metal, dropped by 24 percent to 6.4 tons in March, figures from the exporters’ association showed yesterday. Exports in the first quarter were down by 13.3 year-on-year to 18.6 tons, the figures showed. (Reuters)