In Brief

Gov’t hopes tax reform will attract social acceptance The government next month will unveil its long-awaited proposals for tax reform that will make the system simpler, more transparent and efficient, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said. Speaking at the Greek-Japanese Chamber of Commerce, he put particular emphasis on the «new model of social understanding and responsibility» on which he said the government’s economic policy is based, involving social partners in the formulation of the basic characteristics of development though democratic negotiation and commitment. «A secure and stable environment for investment and growth requires social acceptability of changes, consolidating a frame of trust and participation… Another prerequisite of social acceptability is the protection of the citizen from arbitrary decisions of State authority and bureaucracy.» Christodoulakis said the privatizations implemented or underway will attract private capital exceeding 3 percent of GDP, which is a record compared to previous years and to any other European country. He warned that maintaining the benefits of the eurozone and closing the distance with the other partners will require even greater efforts in coming years. Christodoulakis said Greece hopes to end its unenviable record of attracting the least Japanese investment among all EU partners. HP and Lukoil/Petrola to consider details of Balkan partnership scheme Officials of Hellenic Petroleum (HP) and the consortium of Russia’s Lukoil and Greece’s Petrola, negotiating the sale of a 23 percent stake in HP, are expected today to thrash out details of a scheme for strategic cooperation in all Balkan countries, as the basic guidelines have already been approved, sources said. Other issues being negotiated are HP’s expansion in hydrocarbon exploration and production – Lukoil has offered HP deposits it controls in the Caspian Sea region – and the sale to the government of the option which HP held for a stake in the Public Gas Corporation for 58.7 million euros. The consortium is said to have asked advisors for details of the evaluation method. The conclusion of the above points is expected to open the way for the key issue of Petrola’s absorption by HP, considered the touchstone of the sale. The negotiations are generally thought to be going well and on a positive footing. Uninsured laborers Immigrants are not the only victims of unofficial employment which deprives them of social security, official labor inspections show. Of a total of 950 small enterprises, 101 had not registered with the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and employed 175 uninsured workers. The remaining 849 businesses employed 240 uninsured workers, 80 percent of whom were Greek. Nevertheless, the Labor and Social Security Ministry said the firms not keeping personnel lists and work schedules fell from 36 percent last year to 22 percent in 2002. Those not entering individual work contracts and issuing official paychecks fell from 30 to 11 percent. Greek tourism to Turkey The number of Greek tourists who visited the Orthodox shrines in Turkey during the Easter holiday month of May was up by nearly 35 percent from the same holiday month of April 2001. Kalivis said the unions plan to encircle Parliament tomorrow evening as discussion of the reform proposals winds up.