ECONOMY

In Brief

Litigation risks loss of funds for IT projects in public sector Tenders for implementing the multimillion-euro Information Society program in the public sector, under the EU-subsidized Third Community Support Framework which expires this year, are plagued by legal suits and injunctions among the participating information technology firms. The tendered projects are worth 50 million euros but officials say that a further 30 million is likely to be added for «inter-municipal» portals that will provide information or services to citizens. Ministries have tried in vain to ameliorate differences between firms and it is feared that many projects, such as the portals, will be lost due to the litigations. Budget deficit falls in first half of the year The budget deficit fell to 5.47 billion euros in the first half of 2006, from 7.72 billion in the same period last year, according to data released yesterday. The Finance Ministry has a set a target of 8.5 billion for the year, against 10.6 billion euros in 2005. The data show that the deficit reduction was the result of increased revenues, lower spending and 11.4 percent less in tax rebates. On the expenses side, interest payments fell 13.9 percent year-on-year to 6.9 billion from 8.1 billion euros. Banks’ social insurance The Economy and Employment ministries will present an amended draft presidential decree on the proposed reform of banks’ social insurance funds. Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis yesterday disputed that the Council of State ruled that an earlier draft was unconstitutional, claiming that its observations earlier this week against the draft amounted to an opinion rather than a ruling. The observations prompted Bank of Cyprus on Tuesday to hint it was reconsidering its bid for Emporiki Bank. Aegean orders Airbus Plane maker Airbus said in Paris yesterday that Greek carrier Aegean Airlines had ordered three more of its A320 planes. Delivery is scheduled to take place between January 2007 and April 2009. (Reuters) Lira auctions The Turkish central bank withdrew 400 million lira ($255 million) from the market in two lira deposit purchase auctions yesterday under a policy launched last month to support the currency. It pulled 296 million lira in a tender maturing July 26 at an average rate of 18.14 percent and 104 million in a tender maturing August 2 at an average 18.78 percent. (Reuters) Bosnia telecoms The government of Bosnia’s Muslim Croat Federation will soon discuss a plan to sell the country’s No. 1 and No. 3 telecommunications companies, a leading Bosnian daily reported yesterday. Under one option, the government would sell 51 percent of the 90 percent it owns in BH Telecom in a public tender for at least 650 million euros. The rest of its stake would be sold later, Dnevni Avaz reported, citing sources. (Reuters)