CSFIII absorption rate good; minister complains to EU Authorities have approved investment subsidies for 7,700 projects under the EU-sponsored Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) investment plan for the 2001-2006 period, covering about 42 percent of the total budget, or about 13.4 billion euros, Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas said. On the whole, more than 8,300 investment proposals have been received, representing about 50 percent of the CSF III budget. EU subsidies received to date amount to 3.2 billion euros, or 15 percent, of the total EU contribution and above projections. Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, who discussed EU structural policy funding with commissioners Diamantopoulou, Fischler and Barnier in Brussels on Monday, said Greece faced limited difficulties in the absorption of EU investment subsidies but argued it was paradoxical for Europe to have a «growth problem» and, at the same time, a surplus of development funds. He indicated that the existing strict monitoring rules, which oblige a member state to return money not used within two years, had to be revised as bureaucratic and ineffective. Greek banks better look for business in the neighborhood The future of Greek banks lies mainly at home and in the Balkan region, where they must develop a strong presence, EFG Eurobank Ergasias Deputy Managing Director Nikos Karamouzis writes in the latest bulletin of the Hellenic Union of Banks. He argues that the size of the economies of Balkan neighbors is limited in relation to that of Greece and that expansion there requires relatively little investment. Karamouzis estimates that the acquisition of even Bulgaria’s biggest bank, for instance, would cost $300 million, which is within Greek banks’ economic potential. Establishing a strong presence further afield in Europe is fraught with insurmountable difficulties but access and specialized presence in some would be advisable. Size is not an end in itself, Karamouzis argues, but a means to achieving satisfactory results. Car sales Toyota topped car sales in September, which rose 9.5 percent to 21,154 vehicles after a 33-percent fall in August, the Vehicle Importers and Dealers Association said. In the first nine months of 2002, as a whole, sales were down 4.95 percent to 217.116 from 228,431 in the same period last year. Toyota led with 19,200 vehicles, followed by Hyundai with 18,620, Peugeot with 15,750, Opel with 17,245, Fiat with 16,320, VW with 14,720 and Citroen with 14,500. Asset management Aspis Bank and ABN AMRO Management signed a letter of intent for the setting up of a joint asset management company, which will include more than 60 mutual funds of the two firms and investment services for private and institutional clients. Tourism South Korean Ambassador Tae Kyu Han told Greek National Tourism Organization Chairman Yiannis Patellis of his country’s desire to expand the bilateral tourism business and of a strong interest in winter and sports-related tourism in Greece. He said the soccer World Cup 2002, held in Korea and Japan last summer, had positive effects on his country’s tourism industry.