Gov’t says consensus is key to structural economic reform The requirement of social consensus in the pursuit of structural reforms in the economy is the main difference between the present government and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday. «There is no disagreement with New Democracy over the economy, as regards the ultimate goal. This in no way means that we agree on the policies leading to the attainment of the goal,» he said during an event held by EFG Eurobank Ergasias, also attended by Shadow Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. Christodoulakis stressed the government considers social consensus a prerequisite for implementing structural reform, as it promotes a climate of trust. ND did not conform to this requirement when in power in the 1990-93 period, and this was why its efforts failed, he added. He said the government insisted on maintaining a minimum 35-percent stake in certain key state-owned companies in order to better protect the public interest, with which Alogoskoufis concurred. The ND official said, however, that the role of politicians was not to follow the citizen but to convince public opinion of the policies they wished to promote. He accused the government of parodies of tenders in its privatization efforts. ETA plans more active involvement in real estate State-owned Hellenic Tourist Properties (ETA) plans a dynamic involvement in real estate in tandem with its contribution to the qualitative parameters of tourism policy, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday. «We are preparing a new innovative policy, to be accompanied by a lifting of disincentives, institutional obstacles and dysfunctional systems which left the country’s tourist assets untapped for decades,» he said after a meeting ahead of the presentation on Wednesday, June 5, of ETA’s strategic plan and the launch of procedures for listing on the Athens bourse. The presentation will be held at the eastern terminal of the old Athens airport at Hellenikon at 4 p.m. Casino auction The Hyatt Regency-Hellenic Technodomiki consortium, bidding for a 49-percent stake and the management in the privatization of the Mont Parnes casino on the outskirts of Athens, yesterday upped its initial bid from 80.75 million euros to 92.1 million. The only other contestant, the Piraeus Bank-Loutraki Casino consortium, had initially bid 90.3 million euros. Officials conducting the multiple round auction rejected an application by the new higher bidders for the exclusion of their rivals, who are now free to respond. Mont Parnes is the only casino in the Athens area. Merger cemented The Heracles Cement company, which is controlled by the international Lafarge group, yesterday announced the acquisition of Hellamat and Beton SA, two other members of the group, for 15.85 million euros. The company will merge, within 2002, its production and trading activities of ready mix and aggregates into one firm under the name of Lafarge Beton. The entities to be merged had a total annual turnover of 93.3 million euros in 2001. Heracles is Greece’s largest cement producer, with three plants, an output of 9.6 million tonnes and sales of 554 million euros in 2001. «The government’s proposals do not ensure funding for the system, they abolish the tripartite funding structure and lead to lower pensions,» it said. It insisted that GSEE stick to its original demand for tripartite funding and that the State make good on its debts to IKA, the principal social security system.