ECONOMY

In Brief

Hoteliers tell gov’t to tidy up its act The Greek Hoteliers’ Federation (POX) has disputed the Development Ministry’s projection that foreign tourist arrivals in 2002 will roughly equal last year’s and said its own data show a fall of 5-8 percent. In terms of overnight stays and foreign exchange receipts the shortfall will be more than 10 percent, POX said, noting that lower demand has affected prices. POX said after a meeting of members on the sidelines of the Philoxenia tourism exhibition in Thessaloniki that the existence of three centers of authority in tourism policy planning caused indecision and problems remained unsolved. «Those formulating tourism policy must at last coordinate their activities, stop undermining private enterprise and assume their responsibilities… The policy of attracting last-minute clients has sent average prices to very low levels and this will affect profits and, in the long run, the level of services.» POX said the country had to intensify its advertising campaign abroad, which was completely ineffectual this year despite repeated appeals. Small entrepreneurs protest ‘pressure’ for tax settlement The General Confederation of Small Manufacturers and Traders (GSEBEE) is protesting against the «pressure» exercised by the Finance Ministry to force them to submit to the option of irrevocable tax settlement for the fiscal years 1993-1998. GSEBEE says businesses are unable to pay the amounts required, this being the reason why only 250,000 of them, out of a total of 700,000, have taken up the option so far. It calls on the ministry to «stop the dispatch of blackmailing notifications for inspection of books and suspend the process for another solution to be found through dialogue.» Trade with Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said he will seek the close collaboration of the Economy and Development ministries and of exporters and industrialists in the implementation of the agreement for Greek goods and services to cover 70-75 percent of the value of natural gas purchases from Russia. «We have decided to politically upgrade the issue… However, the processes that will be instituted must function in the framework of the market,» he said. Industrialists’ and exporters’ representatives will submit proposals by next week. Electricity Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said a draft bill amending the existing legal framework of Greece’s deregulated electric power market and introducing a more efficient management system will be tabled this month. He estimated that private producers will implement at least 50 percent of projects proposed by 2005 and said the country will face no shortages. Car sales Private car sales fell slightly to 21,065 in October, but were 2.9 percent higher than a year earlier. Toyota, with 2,096 vehicles, topped sales for the fifth straight month, followed by Peugeot with 1,698, and Fiat with 1,650. Total sales through October were 238,181, 4.3 percent lower than in same period of 2001. CCF Marfin Bank has completed the buyout of Credit Commercial de France’s (CCF) banking activities in Thessaloniki. CCF’s clients in the city will now be served by Marfin’s new branch in 9, Ionos Dragoumi, tel 2310.533.454.