Sell-offs fill state coffers

Revenues accruing from the State’s divestment program to date amount to 1.3 percent of gross domestic product and are expected to jump to 3 percent of national output in the next four months as the privatization train accelerates, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday. Speaking at a luncheon held by the Foreign Press Association, the minister said the government plans to speed up the privatization program in the coming months. He said that receipts from the spate of sell-offs in the year to date are equivalent to 1.3 percent of GDP. «By the autumn, this figure is expected to increase to 3 percent of GDP,» he predicted, which would make it the highest figure in Europe. Up to now, the state coffers have benefited from the transfer of Hellenic Shipyards to a German consortium in May for 47.1 million euros and the sale of an 8-percent stake in telecoms operator OTE early this month for 665 million euros. Christodoulakis said forthcoming privatization targets include lottery and pools operator OPAP, with the State planning to offload a 19-percent stake in mid-July, and Hellenic Post Office, where an announcement is expected shortly. Olympic Catering, the catering subsidiary of Olympic Airways, is also up for sale after the State launched a tender for expressions of interest over the weekend. Tourist assets owned by ETA, the asset management arm of the Greek National Tourist Organization, and up for sale should also help raise revenues for the State. These include the Mont Parnes casino and the three marinas in Attica. The minister said the sell-off list does not include the Public Power Corporation or water company EYDAP, both of which have seen strong investor interest in recent days due to speculation. «Private airlines must be happy. The deregulation date was moved forward to 2003 from 2004 and already authorities are issuing a raft of permits to destinations we can’t fly to,» Loizides said before an annual general meeting of the company later yesterday.

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