Real estate taxes to be overhauled National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou has announced a drastic simplification of real estate taxes, as part of the planned overhaul of the taxation system. According to sources, a committee of experts working on the plan is preparing the harmonization of a number of real estate taxes with those applying in most other EU countries and the replacement of the tax declaration on large real estate with a register. The plan also includes the abolition, as of 2003, of the property transfer tax on buildings under construction, which will become subject to the value added tax. This measure is long overdue, as it was initially scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 1997. Other measures being considered are the simplification of procedures on parental property transfers and gifts, and the abolition of many of the dozen certificates required for transfers today. Papantoniou said the government aims to turn the taxation system into an effective mechanism for the growth and modernization of enterprises. Bank cuts mortgage rates NovaBank has reduced rates on some mortgage loans by up to 105 basis points (1.05 percent), effective Thursday. The cut brings NovaBank’s rates for mortgage loans fixed for the first two years to 4.30 percent from 4.90 previously, while rates on the one-year fixed-rate are 4.60 percent from 5.65 percent previously. Variable rates on mortgage loans were lowered to 6.15 percent from 6.75 percent previously. NovaBank is a joint venture set up last year by insurer Interamerican and Portugal’s Banco Comercial Portugues. Following European insurer consortium Eureko’s buyout of Interamerican earlier this year, Interamerican majority shareholder Dimitris Kontominas paid 136.2 million euros for Interamerican’s non-core assets, including a 20-percent stake in NovaBank. (Reuters) Greek candidacy for WTO. China and Greece are the two candidates for hosting the next World Tourism Organization (WTO) conference which will take place in September 2003. WTO’s 136 members are to vote on the matter next Saturday, during this year’s conference which is taking place in Seoul and Osaka from September 24 through October 3. The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises is also to submit a candidacy for a place in the vice-presidency of WTO’s Entrepreneurial Council. Textile laboratory accredited. The Textiles, Clothing and Fibers Technological Development Company (ETAKEI) of the Development Ministry has been accredited by the National Accreditation Council according to European Standard EN 45001, becoming the first such accredited laboratory in Greece. ETAKEI has more than 300 active clients in Greece and abroad, conducts about 15,000 quality control tests annually and advises on technology application problems. It also manages the EU’s Bentex program for the development of a data bank to assist the application of new technologies in textile and clothing enterprises. Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, Spain and Portugal are the other participants in the program. The tests conducted by ETAKEI include those for EC Eco-Label, for which any manufacturer outside the foodstuffs, beverages and pharmaceuticals sectors may voluntarily apply.