In Brief

Building permits on Cyprus fell last year The number of building permits issued in Cyprus, the eurozone’s second-smallest economy, declined last year amid a real estate slump on the Mediterranean island. The number of permits, a leading indicator of future construction, fell 6.6 percent year-on-year to 8,896, the Nicosia-based National Statistics Service said yesterday in a statement on its website. Cyprus forecasts budget shortfalls until at least 2013 given a slowdown in the real estate industry, according to the island nation’s 2008 to 2012 stability program, published yesterday. The European Union forecasts growth in the country will slow to 1.1 percent this year from about 3.7 percent in 2008 as tourism drops, hitting demand for holiday homes and other construction. Revenue generated from tourism on the island declined 12 percent to 31.2 million euros ($39 million) in January from 35.3 million euros a year earlier as fewer tourists visited, the statistics agency said in a separate statement yesterday. Visitors from the UK alone fell to 19,809 from 21,641, the data showed. (Bloomberg) World Bank admits to appalling errors TIRANA (Reuters) – The World Bank made appalling errors in its handling of an Albanian tourism project, its president said yesterday, after displaced villagers said they had been left without homes or livelihood. Robert Zoellick said the World Bank was taking measures not to allow a repetition of errors that occurred during the supervision of a tourism project run by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s son-in-law. A report by the bank’s independent inspection panel said residents in the village of Jale on Albania’s Ionian Sea coast had complained they were left with no shelter or livelihood after their homes were demolished to clear land for tourism development. «They claim this led to their impoverishment and violated the bank’s stated policy to reduce poverty,» the inspection panel’s report said. Talks resume Celebi Hava Servisi AS, a Turkish provider of airport services, resumed talks with Spain’s Acciona SA to buy its airport services units. Celebi resumed the talks to buy Acciona’s units in Spain and Germany after «obstacles that ended the talks were removed and permissions seemed to be obtained in shorter time,» Celebi said in a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange yesterday. Celebi halted negotiations after Acciona failed to obtain permission for the sale from Spanish airport authorities within an agreed time frame, Celebi said in a filing. Acciona said at the time that it was scrapping the sale because it failed to attract sufficiently high bids. (Bloomberg) Bank exposure Austria, until now a model of budgetary discipline, could find itself at risk of contagion from a looming credit crunch in Eastern Europe because of huge Austrian bank exposure in the region, analysts said yesterday. «Among the banking systems in Western Europe, Austria’s is the most exposed, given the volume of loans in foreign currency to countries such as Hungary, Romania or Russia,» said an analyst at CA Cheuvreux, Simon Quijano-Evans. Moody’s had sounded the alarm earlier this week. (AFP)

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