Companies in northern Greece called on the government to draft a special program in support of the country’s manufacturing similar to those announced recently for the tourism and construction sectors. At a meeting between the new president of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE), Nikos Pentzos, and Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou yesterday in Athens, the industrialist said that the decline in manufacturing output in many sectors is as high as 40 percent in northern Greece. He added that unemployment has grown considerably in most prefectures of Macedonia and Thrace. Pentzos also asked the minister for employment in manufacturing to be subsidized until the end of 2009 as well as for a new decision envisaging state guarantees for loans to companies that are either based in border prefectures or belong to so-called «sensitive» sectors. SBBE further stressed that there should be fresh measures to boost construction (such as a reduction in property transfer tax), an increase from 0.5 percent to 2 percent in provisions for bad loans in companies’ financial reports, the reintroduction of provisions allowing 1 percent of importers’ spending to be unaccounted for, the abolition of a 0.6 percent levy on loans, and the reduction of the single property tax of 1 euro per square meter for various industrial spaces. The proposed measures should apply until the end of the year, SBBE suggested.