ECONOMY

In Brief

Most Greeks say cannot make ends meet without borrowing About two-thirds of Greeks claim they borrow in order to maintain a reasonable standard of living, one in four are unable to meet the expenses of basic items such as housing and food, and 91 percent say they have no serious potential for saving, a survey by the Institute of Consumer Protection (INKA) says. According to the study, only the upmarket Athens suburbs of Dionysos, Ekali, Filothei and Psychico have majorities of citizens declaring monthly incomes above 1,640 euros, which is considered the minimum necessary to cover the living expenses of a four-member family (excluding those for rent, debt repayment and private schooling). The nationwide Price Survey, carried out on October 16, showed that prices had risen by a monthly average of 10.14 percent since a year earlier, but the average between January and October 2002 was 5.91 percent. INKA received more than 107,000 complaints in the 10 months, with the cost of living being the subject category most often cited. INKA said that «the third wave of price rises, which would have dealt the coup de grace to the purchasing power of Greeks,» was averted thanks to the widespread consumers’ boycott last September. The present situation may be described merely as «stabilization of high prices.» Finally, INKA says the latest campaign to increase the public’s awareness of the value of small coin denominations of the euro is inadequate and that Greece has sustained more side effects on prices from the introduction of the common currency. Tourism operators voice concern over temporary conference facility Six tourism industry associations expressed concern that facilities of the old Athens airport at Hellenikon, which Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA) says it plans to use as a temporary exhibition and conference center, are extremely inadequate for the stated purpose and will jeopardize Athens’s image as a location for such events. They say the issue is additionally important in view of the Olympic Games of 2004. ETA had been expected to select a consortium to construct a new permanent facility. Strike threat Bank workers union (OTOE) head Dimitris Kouselas said his members will strike if the Postal Savings Bank (Tahydromiko Tamieftirio) is allowed to operate during afternoon hours, as provided by the draft bill for its conversion into a proper bank. Speaking before a parliamentary committee, he noted that the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, has forbidden the operation of banks during afternoon hours. Transport Minister Christos Verelis said such business hours will apply only during the period of conversion. Tourism Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Chairman Yiannis Patellis is to present the Chinese edition of the organization’s album «Journey Through Time» – with old engravings and modern photographic material on Greece – on Nov. 4. Wedding loan General Bank announced a new type of consumer loan for newlyweds, which may amount to up to 25,000 euros for expenses relating to the wedding, reception and basic new home equipment. The loan, available for all those married within 2002, is accompanied by a gift of a three-night stay in a four-star hotel in Rome.