In Brief

Cyprus property tax revenues slump NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s tax receipts from real estate transactions fell 27 percent in the first 10 months of the year though overall revenues were marginally higher than last year, data released yesterday showed. Reflecting a downturn in the property market, capital gains tax revenues fell to 278.86 million euros from January to October, from 382.78 million in the first 10 months of 2007. The levy is primarily charged on disposal of real estate, a sector which has been hit by slumping demand from West European markets for holiday homes on the island. High real estate revenues helped propel state finances to a 3.3 percent surplus in 2007. Authorities expect a surplus of around 1.0 percent in 2008. Cyprus’s inland revenue department January-October data showed an 11 percent increase in corporate tax revenues. Turkish firms partner up with Royal Dutch Shell ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish state firms Botas and TPAO and global energy major Royal Dutch Shell have formed a natural gas exploration and marketing partnership in Iraq, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said yesterday. TPAO has also been invited to enter exploration tenders for eight oilfields in Iraq, for which the firm may form a partnership with Shell, Guler said. «There is a possibility of a TPAO partnership with Shell, especially on the Kirkuk field,» Guler said during the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the energy major. Last week TPAO Chief Executive Mehmet Uysal told Reuters his company had reached the final stage of talks with Shell to bid together in a partnership in oil exploration tenders in Iraq. The agreement between Turkey and Shell will also cover possible gas infrastructure projects in Turkey including links with neighboring countries. Nuclear accord Romania signed a 4-billion-euro ($5 billion) contract with six companies, including Italy’s Enel SpA and the Czech Republic’s CEZ AS, to build and operate two nuclear power plants. «We’re doubling nuclear generation capacity to keep our independence and increase energy security,» Finance Minister Varujan Vosganian said at a news conference in Bucharest yesterday. «This is a very good signal that Romania remains attractive to foreign investors.» Construction of the plants, slated to finish by 2015, will double the number of reactors in Romania, each with a capacity of 700 megawatts. (Bloomberg) Unemployment rises Bulgaria’s unemployment rate climbed for the first time this year to 5.85 percent in October as farms, hotels and construction firms cut jobs. The rate rose from 5.8 percent in September, the Employment Agency in Sofia said in an e-mail yesterday. The number of jobless rose to 216,644 from 214,692 in September. Bulgaria’s work force was 3.5 million people in the second quarter, according to the statistics office. The agency revised data for January and February. The Balkan nation’s unemployment level reacted for the first time to the global economic crisis, as recession in the European Union slashed Bulgarian exports and drained investment. Since joining the EU in 2007, Bulgaria has had the lowest number of jobless people in 17 years as record levels of foreign investment went into new businesses and the construction of hotels, housing and office buildings. (Bloomberg)