NEWS

In Brief

TENDER LAW STAYED

New Democracy, PASOK agree to suspend controversial ban The ruling conservatives and PASOK main opposition party yesterday passed in Aparliament an amendment that will suspend implementation of the government’s controversial new law on state tenders. The law, banning media barons from access to lucrative public contracts, has been strongly criticised by the European Commission. It will not be implemented until October 31, to allow negotiations between the government and officials in Brussels. ONLINE BILLS? Utilities charges may soon be payable electronically at KEPs, ministry says The electronic payment of utilities bills at Citizens’ Information Centers (KEPs) may soon be allowed after a survey revealed that two in three citizens would favor it, the Interior Ministry said yesterday. Some 62.5 percent of people polled in a survey conducted at KEPs across the country last week said such a service would benefit them. Of these, 48.3 percent claimed to own at least one credit card. In several prefectures of central and northern Greece, including Arta, Viotia, Thesprotia and Pella, 80 percent of citizens said they would embrace such a system. UNDERGROUND PARKING 2,180 new spaces next month A network of underground car parks in Athens will offer motorists 6,750 parking spots by 2008, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday after inaugurating a new site at the Paidon Hospital in Goudi. Car parks at Goudi, Kaningos Sq and Rizari Street, and another one due to open next month at the Pedion tou Areos, will offer 2,180 spaces, Souflias said. Parking at the new Goudi site, which has 651 spaces on five levels, will be 5 euros for the first hour, with the charge increasing by one euro every hour. Sunday race Greeks will have free access to all public transport from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday to mark World Environment Day and the annual Round of Athens races, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday. Three races – of 8 kilometers, 3 kilometers and a 700-meter one for children and those with special needs – are likely to cause traffic disruptions in the city center. Chinook probe The findings by the manufacturer of a transport helicopter in which 17 people died when it crashed off Mount Athos last September, should offer clear conclusions regarding the incident, a Thessaloniki prosecutor said yesterday. The company has yet to respond to a request by judicial authorities for the helicopter wreckage to be examined by experts, the prosecutor said. Army and air force personnel are facing manslaughter and negligence charges in connection with the crash. Olympic venues The Culture Ministry is to issue an appeal by the end of this month to private investors interested in making use of the Olympic sports venues in Goudi, Maroussi and Aghios Cosmas, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia said yesterday after talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Karamanlis had asked Palli-Petralia to accelerate the process of putting Olympics venues to use. Turkish violations Thirty-two Turkish fighter jets, a naval cooperation aircraft and an AB-212 helicopter violated Greek air space in the northern, central and southern Aegean eight times yesterday, military sources in Athens said. Tax evasion A Rhodes prosecutor yesterday lodged charges of smuggling and fraud against a local businessman who imported 4.3 million euros worth of alcoholic beverages without paying the corresponding customs duties. An Attica man believed to have mediated in the trade has been arrested and police are seeking a Piraeus resident and a German national believed to have collected the imported beverages. Exhausted mayor Patras Mayor Andreas Karavolas was yesterday being treated for exhaustion after fainting ahead of an inauguration ceremony at the city’s new archaeological museum. Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis visited Karavolas in the hospital.