In Brief

Serb PM urges deputies to pass 09 budget BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia’s Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic urged parliament on Friday to adopt the 2009 budget by today, saying that any delays could make it harder to respond to the economic slowdown. Failure to adopt the 2009 budget by today would force Serbia into temporary financing, allowing the government to spend merely 25 percent of the previous year’s budget per quarter. «I invite you to jointly invest efforts and, by the end of this session, adopt the budget, the most important document determining Serbia’s economic policy for the next year,» Cvetkovic said in a letter to deputies. Otherwise, Serbia could be forced to draw on the $516-million stand-by loan agreed to with the International Monetary Fund. The government’s plan to seek 400 million euros in EU assistance could also be at risk. Ankara cuts spending in view of IMF deal ANKARA (AP) – Turkey’s parliament on Saturday reduced the budget allocations of most ministries by up to 16 percent to cut overall spending as the country seeks a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Parliament voted 324-117 to save around 5.5 billion liras ($3.6 billion) in the 2009 budget. That is expected to please an IMF delegation due to arrive in Ankara early in January, as the organization has long been urging Turkey to cut spending. The budgets of the Defense, Justice and Transportation ministries were, however, excluded. Turkey hopes to complete talks with the IMF during January and secure a loan of some $25 billion. Turkey has to repay around $50 billion in foreign debt within a year. Risky optimism Montenegro’s parliament passed the 2009 budget of 1.62 billion euros on Saturday, assuming the economy would grow by 5 percent – double the International Monetary Fund’s forecast. Backed by 42 deputies in the 81-seat parliament, the balanced budget includes 230 million euros’ worth of investment in infrastructure to bolster economic activity and avoid job losses. Opposition parties have slammed the government for boosting spending by 15 percent, with some warning that the budget relies on uncertain revenues in a year when the global financial crisis is expected to tip the developed world into recession. Public spending will account for 49 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). (Reuters) Turk foreign investment Foreign-based portfolio investments in Turkey tumbled by $29.5 billion to $52.7 billion in October, a State Planning Organization report said on Friday. Turkey’s financial markets were hit hard in October by the global financial crisis and a sharp domestic economic slowdown. «Foreign residents’ portfolios in shares held in our country lessened by $17.5 billion; government domestic debt instruments fell by $11.1 billion; eurobonds fell by $0.1 billion and deposits by $0.9 billion (in October),» the agency said. (Reuters) Russian plant in Montenegro Russian holding company Basic Element’s En+ Group said on Friday it has not ruled out shutting down Montenegro’s KAP aluminium smelter as talks with the government over an aid package continue. The plant accounts for 15 percent of the Balkan nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 50 percent of its exports. Basic Element acquired a controlling stake in the plant in 2005. (Reuters)

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