In Brief

Cyprus property market slumps as foreign buyers stay away The number of retail properties bought by foreigners in Cyprus fell 76 percent in the first nine months of the year as UK buyers stayed away. Non-Cypriots bought a total of 1,363 homes in the January-September period, compared with 5,622 in the same period a year earlier, the Cyprus Lands and Surveys Office said yesterday on its website. The euro region’s second-smallest economy will shrink 0.5 percent this year after more than five years of growth as the global slowdown dents key industries including real estate, the Finance Ministry said on September 12. Britons account for over half of all foreign visitors and more than 50 percent of house purchases by non-Cypriots. Tourist arrivals from the UK dropped 11.5 percent in August amid the global recession, at the height of the summer season, according to the Cyprus Statistics Service. (Bloomberg) Bulgarian gov’t reviewing arms deals in effort to cut spending SOFIA (Reuters) – Cash-strapped Bulgaria is reviewing deals to buy military equipment worth hundreds of millions of euros and will make a final decision by the end of the year, new Defense Minister Nikolai Mladenov said yesterday. The economic downturn has hit the poorest European Union nation hard, putting an end to 12 years of growth and forcing the government of the center-right GERB party that won July elections to cut public spending to maintain fiscal stability. The former communist Balkan country joined NATO in 2004 and has since ordered new helicopters, transport planes and army vehicles to improve its compliance with alliance standards. Mladenov, 37, told Reuters in an interview the ministry was holding talks with contractors to see which deals could be delayed or rescheduled, adding that many of them did not match the army needs. «All contracts are now being carefully examined in the light of our needs and our financial capabilities,» he said. «We are spending a lot of money to buy equipment, which we cannot use where we most need it, which is Afghanistan.» Unemployment soars Unemployment in Cyprus jumped in September as the tourism and construction industries slumped on the global recession. The number of people without work on the eastern Mediterranean island rose almost 71 percent from a year earlier to 17,618, the Nicosia-based Cyprus Statistics Service said in a statement on its website yesterday. On a seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment increased 5.6 percent in September from the previous month, the CSS added. «The trend of the registered unemployment that seemed to have stabilized during the period May to July is showing an upward movement in the last two months,» the statement said. (Bloomberg) Tax hike Romania may consider plans to hike value-added tax next year if a sharp, IMF-prescribed reduction of the government budget deficit is not accomplished, Finance Minister Gheorghe Pogea said yesterday. Romania’s minority cabinet of Prime Minister Emil Boc has set a fiscal deficit target of 5.9 percent of gross domestic product for 2010 against 7.3 this year, a key requirement under the country’s 20-billion-euro aid deal led by the International Monetary Fund. (Reuters)