ECONOMY

In Brief

Inflation risks have eased in eurozone, says Papademos ROME – The eurozone’s economy is recovering more slowly than expected but inflation risks have eased, the vice president of the European Central Bank was quoted as saying in an Italian newspaper interview yesterday. Lucas Papademos told Il Sole 24 Ore that he expected the eurozone’s economy to pick up at the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 and said the recent strengthening of the euro currency against the dollar reflected economic fundamentals. Asked whether the ECB was pondering an interest rate cut, Papademos said: «Developments in recent months indicate that the risk factors concerning price stability have become more balanced recently.» He added that both the parameters and principles of the European Union Stability Pact should be respected but said certain measures aimed at improving «the efficiency» and «credibility» of the pact could be discussed. (Reuters) ECOFIN to discuss Stability Pact, enlargement The Council of European Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) will meet in Copenhagen today and tomorrow to discuss international economic developments, internal fiscal developments, the application of the EU Stability Pact, the Union’s enlargement in 2004 and several proposals, including one by the Danish presidency on an energy tax. Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, who will leave today for the meeting, will preside over discussions pertaining to the eurozone, since Denmark has not joined the euro. The issue of Portugal’s violating Stability Pact guidelines with its excessive deficit will come up and may lead to a more general discussion on the merits of the pact, which some members, including Germany, see as too restrictive at a time of economic slowdown. Objection The Attica Casino consortium made up of Club Hotel Loutraki, operators of the Loutraki Casino, and Piraeus Bank, has petitioned the State Council to annul a government decision to award a 49-percent stake in state-owned Parnitha casino to a rival consortium in which took part Hyatt – operators of a hotel and casino in Thessaloniki – and construction company Hellenic Technodomiki. The government had adjudged Hyatt / Hellenic Technodomiki as the winners in the bid for the State. Attica Casino had submitted a much higher bid after the deadline and tried to put pressure on the government to reconsider. In the end, the government did persuade the winning bidders to improve their offer. Meeting Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos will meet today with Bulgaria Energy Minister Milko Kovachev in Thessaloniki. The ministers will discuss the latest developments in «the construction of Balkan energy networks,» according to a Development Ministry statement. The main issue regards construction of an oil pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Bourgas on the Black Sea to the Aegean port of Alexandroupolis. The pipeline will deliver crude oil from Russia and other Caspian countries and Greece hopes that it can compete with the planned Baku-Ceyhan pipeline linking Azerbaijan and Turkey. «SMS along with other data services accounted for close to 13 percent of CosmOTE’s revenues in the first half of the year,» he said. Vodafone reported a similar percentage in its last financial year ending March 31, 2002. The companies will be hoping that SMS users will make the leap to MMS.