ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t to tighten legislation for consumer protection The new realities in the banking and insurance markets signal the need for particular attention to consumer protection, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said. «Besides the small print of bank credit contracts, mobile phone services will also come under scrutiny,» he told the National Consumers’ Council. He said there will be changes in legislation boosting the role of consumers’ organizations, and possibly containing provisions for protecting children’s emotional welfare. A public prosecutor earlier this week ordered a preliminary inquiry into press reports and charges by the Cabinet’s General Secretary Socrates Kosmidis that banks continue to use abusive terms in consumer credit contracts, despite a ruling to the opposite by the Supreme Court. Tsochadzopoulos indicated a possible legislative initiative if banks did not comply with the ruling. EBRD and Interamerican initial Romania deal Greek insurer Interamerican, a subsidiary of the Eureko group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have initialed an agreement to cooperate in insurance, financial services, assurance and asset management in Romania. The deal provides for EBRD’s investment of $3.4 million in a 20-percent stake in Interamerican Romania. The two sides «will work out and implement investment in existing operations and new projects… promoting the concepts of private insurance and private capital management for the people of Romania,» said a statement. EBRD is already the second largest foreign investor in Romania, with more than 2 billion euros, and plans to invest over 400 million euros this year. Interamerican Romania, which plans to use EBRD funds to boost its position in the local market, expects premium revenues of more than 12 million euros this year. TVX asks for letter back Officials of Canadian mining company TVX Gold yesterday again raised the issue with the government of the return of the 10-billion-drachma (29.3-million-euro) letter of guarantee deposited for its proposed investment in the Cassandra mine in Halkidiki, northern Greece. The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, last October annulled the licensing of the project, on which TVX Gold had already spent an estimated $300 million, despite a government commitment in 1996. Sources said the government fears that returning the letter may be taken as an admission of responsibility for the cancelation of the investment, possibly enabling the Canadians to make demands for compensation. Meanwhile, according to an announcement in Toronto last week, TVX Gold and Echo Bay Mines will be absorbed by Kinross, whose chairman, Robert Buchan, is expected to visit Greece in the fall. Greek-Serb cooperation The Athens and Belgrade bourses signed a cooperation agreement for «the creation of a capital market in Serbia,» expected to be implemented by year’s end. The project, to be funded with 1.8 million euros from Greece’s Development Aid and Cooperation Plan, includes the installation of the Athens bourse’s electronic transaction management and other support systems in Belgrade and the provision of advisory services for the drafting of an institutional and regulatory framework for Serbia’s capital market. With a declining share price and less-than-rosy first-quarter profits, analysts said putting more stocks on the market now could put further downward pressure on the bank’s share price, despite the long-term benefit of the move.