In Brief

Gov’t to cut 430 mln more from 07 budget Greece is planning to cut 430 million euros more from its 2007 state budget than initially planned in a continuing push to balance the budget by 2010, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. His remarks at a news conference follow a weekend meeting in Berlin at which European Union finance ministers informally agreed to balance national budgets within four years. Achieving the new 2010 goal would require cutting the deficit by between 0.6 and 0.7 percentage points a year over the next four years. Greece has already brought its deficit down sharply over the past three years, from an estimated 7.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2004 to 2.6 percent of GDP last year – a figure confirmed on Monday by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency. Compared to that, Alogoskoufis said, achieving a balanced budget should require relatively little adjustment. «The next few years we will have a significantly smaller adjustment compared with the recent past,» he said. «It is something the Greek economy can achieve, both by better controlling spending and by better combating tax evasion.» (AP) Bulgaria pays back all IMF debt early SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria has paid back all its outstanding debt to the International Monetary Fund early in a move to make the emerging economy less vulnerable to external risks, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. The European Union newcomer, whose two-year program with the fund expired at the end of March, said it had paid 204.8 million of special drawing rights (SDR) or $312 million. Bulgaria will pay the IMF debt from a record budget surplus of 3.6 percent of gross domestic product produced last year. It plans for another surplus of at least 2.0 percent this year to avoid risks arising from its huge external imbalance. Mitsubishi in pipeline talks Turkey’s Calik Energy is in talks with Mitsubishi after the Japanese company showed interest in taking part in the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project, Calik Holding Chairman Ahmet Calik said yesterday. Calik was attending a ceremony with Italian partner Eni, marking the start of construction of the oil pipeline that will link Turkey’s Black Sea and Mediterranean coasts. «We are talking to some firms for Samsun-Ceyhan. Mitsubishi wants to take part as an investor because it sees this is a profitable line,» Calik said at a news conference. The 550-kilometer-long (340-mile) pipeline will carry Kazakh and Azeri oil from the Turkish Black Sea port of Samsun to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean, bypassing the congested Turkish straits. The pipeline is scheduled for completion in 2009. (Reuters) Turkish tourism The number of foreigners visiting Turkey rose 19.3 percent year-on-year in March to 1,099,960, the Turkish Statistics Institute said yesterday. The number of visitors in the same period last year was 921,892. In 2006 the number of foreigners visiting Turkey fell 6.2 percent to 19.82 million, reflecting a weaker performance in the tourism sector, which is an important source of foreign currency. (Reuters)

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