In Brief

Waste to be tackled in local government and hospitals Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday the government is preparing legislation which will force social insurance funds, local government authorities and hospitals to draw up budgets and submit balance sheets. Such organizations have been major sources of unaccounted waste of public money, and the government has been under intense pressure from Brussels to eliminate this and produce detailed accounting. Alogoskoufis said Brussels, despite projecting the Greek public deficit at 2 percent of gross domestic product, compared to the government’s 1.6 percent this year, was not pressing for measures. «No one can dictate to us measures to take the deficit below 2 percent.» Finally, he ruled out «for the time being» any increase in VAT rates. «At a time of rising inflation, raising VAT would be sheer madness.» Cyprus HICP eases to 4.3 pct y/y in April NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s EU harmonized inflation eased to 4.3 percent year-on-year in April from 4.4 percent in March, the statistics department said yesterday. The April HICP reading was lower than the headline inflation of 4.6 percent released on May 2. Fuel-related utility bills were 12.4 percent higher in April 2008 than a year ago, reflecting record highs in the price of crude on world markets. Transport costs were up 6.9 percent and food inflation 4.3 percent. For the January-April period, the index was 4.4 percent higher than a year ago, the statistics department said. Garanti Rights Issue Turkiye Garanti Bankasi, part-owned by the General Electric Co, applied to Turkey’s market regulator to raise 2.1 billion liras ($1.7 billion) by giving its shareholders the right to buy additional shares. Garanti fell 1.5 percent to 6.80 liras in Istanbul after the Capital Markets Board said in its weekly bulletin late on May 2 that the bank had applied last week. Istanbul-based Garanti will use cash raised in the rights offer to buy back 370 shares from its founders for $1.1 billion, the bank said last month. (Bloomberg) Romania budget Romania recorded a balanced consolidated government budget in the first quarter of this year, compared to a deficit of 0.12 percent of gross domestic product in the same period of 2008, data showed yesterday. The government ran a small surplus of 0.02 percent of GDP, or 79.2 million lei ($34 million) in January-March. It targets a shortfall of 2.3 percent of GDP this year. Romania has been criticized by the International Monetary Fund and others for unpredictable budget spending and insufficient transparency. (Reuters) Avioane Romania extended the deadline for binding bids for aircraft maker Avioane Craiova to May 20 from May 9 following requests from investors, privatization agency AVAS said yesterday. AVAS plans to sell an 80.9 percent stake in Romania’s sole producer of military aircraft to a strategic investor. It previously extended the deadline for bids in April. (Reuters)