In Brief

Piraeus port workers end ban on overtime Piraeus Port Authority SA, the operator of Greece’s largest port, said workers at the company ended their yearlong ban on overtime and weekend work and the port returned to 24-hour operation last week. The boycott ended on April 6 and the port’s commercial operations are now operating around the clock all week, CEO Nikolaos Anastassopoulos said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Profit in 2008 at the Piraeus Port fell 77 percent to 5.6 million euros ($7.4 million) as workers staged strikes throughout the year, seeking to derail government plans to allow Cosco Pacific Ltd to take over some operations. The Greek Parliament ratified the deal between Piraeus Port and Cosco, Asia’s third-biggest container terminal operator, on March 6. The Greek government owns 75 percent of Piraeus Port. Cosco will run container operations at Piraeus Port’s Pier II and construct and run a new Pier III. The deal was opposed by dockworkers who feared an investor-controlled company would change the terms of their work status. (Bloomberg) Turkey’s economy to contract by 3.6 pct ANKARA (AP) – Turkey’s economy is expected to contract by 3.6 percent in 2009, the government announced yesterday, revising its earlier prediction of 4 percent growth. The government also forecast a $11 billion current account deficit and 13.5 percent unemployment for 2009, said Nazim Ekren, the state minister in charge of economic affairs. Unemployment had reached a record 13.6 percent last month. Ekren said, however, the economy would grow by 3.3 percent in 2010 and 4.5 percent in 2011. Turkey revised its economic forecasts to reflect the effects of the global economic meltdown on the country. The country’s economic leaders are expected to meet soon with a delegation from the International Monetary Fund for a new loan deal to alleviate the impact of the crisis. Both sides agreed to resume talks on a new loan at last week’s G-20 meeting. They had begun talks about a new deal in January but differences over the conditions attached to the loan limited any progress. Bulgarian inflation Bulgarian inflation probably slowed in March for a ninth consecutive month, as food costs stagnated and demand for consumer goods declined. The annual rate fell to 5.3 percent from 6 percent in February, according to the median estimate of eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That would be the lowest level since May 2007, according to Bloomberg data. Consumer prices probably gained a monthly 0.2 percent, the survey showed. (Bloomberg) Serbian budget Serbia’s budget deficit in March reached 13.5 billion dinars ($189 million) as economic growth slowed during the global financial crisis, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. Serbia, which last month reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a 3-billion-euro standby loan, plans to revise its 2009 budget this week to reflect a deficit of 90 billion dinars. The current budget contains a deficit of 50 billion dinars, or 1.5 percent of gross domestic product. (Bloomberg)

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