ECONOMY

In Brief

Cyprus working on natural gas plant NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus plans to create storage facilities for natural gas within the next five years, and will soon appoint an international partner to advise on the project, its minister responsible for energy said yesterday. «The introduction of natural gas is a top priority for this government,» Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Antonis Paschalides told Reuters. The storage facilities for natural gas would be part of a broader energy project that would also store heavy fuel oil. Cyprus does not have fuel storage facilities since shutting down its only refinery several years ago and leases space in Greece. «We plan to create two terminals, one for fuel which will be completed two years from the date of signing the contracts and the second for natural gas within about five years,» Paschalides said. The fuel terminal would cost 400 million euros ($623 million) and the gas terminal between 650 and 700 million euros, he said. Croatia upbeat on tourism growth this year ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatian tourism could grow by some 3 percent this year, boosting the Mediterranean state’s budget income and defying inflation that has crimped its European clientele, the Tourism Ministry said yesterday. Most visitors to Croatia’s Adriatic coast, popular among Germans, Italians, Hungarians and other Europeans, are beginning to watch their spending this summer as a spike in the cost of food and energy has driven up overall price growth. Croatia earned 7 billion euros ($10.9 billion) from tourism last year, almost 20 percent of the European Union candidate’s gross domestic product. It relies heavily on tourism to offset a huge merchandise trade deficit. Pipeline sale Romania plans to sell up to 5 percent more of gas pipeline operator Transgaz on the Bucharest bourse as part of its property restitution scheme, a government member said yesterday. Last year Romania floated 10 percent of the state monopoly which is part of a consortium planning to build the Nabucco pipeline to bring Iranian and Caspian gas to Central Europe. «The (new) stake is just under 5 percent,» Finance and Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian said during a financial seminar. «A few hundred new investors will be on the bourse at the start of the autumn.» (Reuters) Confidence dips Investor confidence in Central and Eastern European economies declined to a five-month low in June as faster inflation and slowing investment curb economic growth, a survey showed. An index of investors’ and analysts’ expectations for economies in the region over the next six months fell to minus 28.7 points from minus 24.1 points in May, according to the poll by the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) and Erste Bank AG. The June rating was the lowest since minus 28.8 in February. «Rising inflation expectations are a concern, like in other areas,» Mariela Borell, a ZEW researcher in Mannheim, Germany, said in a telephone interview. «The declining expectations concern the crisis in international financial markets.» Record global oil and food prices are driving inflation in the region, raising expectations of higher interest rates that could slow economic growth. (Bloomberg)