In Brief

Turkey invites bids for national lottery license Turkey will invite bids today for a license to run the national lottery for 10 years, the country’s asset sales agency said. Companies will have until January 15 to apply to take part in the auction, and must submit bids by February 27, the agency said yesterday. Companies including Athens-based Intralot and Turkey’s Koc Holding have said they may bid. Turkey is selling state-run companies to reduce debt and finance spending plans. The lottery operator, Milli Piyango Idaresi, had net income of 332 million lira ($220 million) last year from gross sales of 1.2 billion lira, according to Treasury figures. It distributed 649 million lira in prize money. Intralot, the world’s second-biggest gambling services operator, said on September 1 it was interested in bidding for Milli Piyango. Intralot already runs sports betting in Turkey in partnership with the country’s biggest mobile-phone company Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri. (Bloomberg) EU energy official to push gas pipeline BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union’s top energy official will travel to Turkey and Azerbaijan today to show Europe’s commitment to a pipeline that would transport natural gas from the Caucasus westward in 2013, keeping it out of Russia’s grasp. Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will make a push for the Nabucco pipeline, whose viability is threatened by energy deals Russia is pursuing in the Caucasus. If these succeed, it will be hard for the EU to ease its dependence on Russia, which at present provides 40 percent of EU gas imports – a level that is set to rise in the years ahead. In Ankara, Piebalgs will try to unblock talks for a gas transmission accord, EU officials said yesterday. Wage growth Romanian annual wage growth, which the central bank says is the main threat to inflation, accelerated in September, as the state increased salaries and private sector investment grew. Net monthly wages grew an annual 24.6 percent to 1,296 lei ($442), after rising 24 percent in August, the National Statistics Institute said in an e-mail yesterday. Net wages rose 1.5 percent on the month after dropping 2.3 percent in August. The government has spurred wage growth by raising salaries for state workers by an average 20 percent this year. Rising private sector investment since Romania joined the EU last year has also pushed jobless levels to near a 16-year low and raised wages. (Bloomberg) Tax cut Turkey plans tax cuts in the telecommunications sector, starting with data communications, in order to boost Internet connection expansion, Telecommunications Minister Binali Yildirim said yesterday. The country’s telecommunications sector has undergone a period of liberalization in recent years, bringing increased competition, and, in the latest step, number portability was being introduced this month to enable mobile phone subscribers to switch carriers. Binali Yildirim told a news conference the government was looking at taxation levels in the Internet sector. «During 2009, there will be a partial (tax) cut and the Finance Ministry is working on this,» the Turkish telecommunications minister said. (Reuters)