ECONOMY

Deal reached on casino

Olympic Technical, the construction company which owns the Porto Carras hotel and leisure complex in Halkidiki, northern Greece, and Casino Porto Carras finally bridged their differences and agreed yesterday that Olympic Technical will acquire the operating license for the casino for 21.13 million euros. The talks concluded after the intervention of Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas and Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos. There was a last-minute glitch, however, which nearly proved embarrassing for the government. Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos, not very optimistic about the prospects for an agreement after similar talks had failed in May, had inserted an amendment into an irrelevant bill on petroleum products allowing the casino to move outside the hotel complex. Tsochadzopoulos had been under fire from opposition deputies for submitting the amendment, which runs counter to recently established parliamentary rules prohibiting the deposition of amendments different in content from the bill under discussion. The widely decried practice had often been used in past years to make new legislation on the fly without much debate. Some deputies, like independent conservative MP Stefanos Manos, suggested that Tsochadzopoulos had left himself open to charges of bribery. The two deputy ministers taking part in the talks arrived on time to prevent the vote on the amendment. Tsochadzopoulos then tried to turn the incident to his advantage by declaring that the amendment had forced the two companies to set aside their disagreements and reach a compromise. The agreement will allow the Porto Carras casino to resume operations soon. Almost half the money the casino company will receive will be used to pay off debts to the State and most of the rest will be used to pay off other debts. – In Caribs, BP, for 70,000 tons of cargo, loading Sept. 15, discharging US Gulf, has fixed Teekay tonnage at W/S 97.5 while Equiva has fixed M/T «Mersey Spirit» for same cargo quantity, loading Sept. 12, with same destination at same levels.