ECONOMY

In Brief

Bulgaria to end 2009 with 0.76 percent budget deficit SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s new government decided yesterday to end 2009 with a budget deficit of 0.76 percent of gross domestic product instead of a planned zero gap to allow the ailing emerging economy a breath of fresh air. Some commentators said the fiscal easing, which is likely to include Christmas bonuses for pensioners, aimed to appease growing public discontent over the economic pain that has already hurt support for the center-right cabinet. Finance Minister Simeon Djankov told a news conference the deficit would be used to increase social payments and provide more funds for healthcare, farming and infrastructure. Farmers and doctors in the poorest European Union nation have threatened protests due to curbed 2010 spending on their struggling sectors. Djankov said the cabinet would decide next week whether to pay Christmas bonuses to civil servants. «We can achieve a balanced budget but we decided that we can loosen [the fiscal policy] a little bit ahead of the end-year holidays,» Djankov said after the center-right cabinet approved a deficit of 500 million levs ($377.1 million) for 2009. Serb 10-month current account deficit just under $2 billion BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia’s current account gap rose by $200 million in October, bringing the January-October gap to $1.9 billion, but masking problems in the real economy, a senior central bank official said yesterday. The deficit was $9.6 billion in the same period 2008. The 10-month balance of payments showed a capital account surplus of $1.94 billion, bolstered by a $608 million allocation of International Monetary Fund special drawing rights, as part of the lender’s $250 billion special drawing rights (SDR) allocation to all its member states. «From the monetary policy aspect, those figures show not-so-big capital inflows and therefore no pressures on the dinar,» Branko Hinic, head of the central bank’s macroeconomic research unit, told Reuters. «But it also speaks of Serbia’s many needs, because the hard currency reserves are rising and the capital account exceeds the current account,» Hinic said. Romanian jobless Romania’s unemployment rate rose to 7.5 percent in November from 7.1 percent a month earlier, the employment agency said yesterday. Dwindling demand from the eurozone has hurt Central and Eastern European economies this year, forcing many companies to reduce output and lay off workers. Bucharest needs to make deep spending cuts to curb Romania’s large imbalances, since the country secured 20 billion euros in aid from international lenders earlier this year and political wrangling triggered a cabinet collapse and a halt in aid funds. (Reuters) Croatian debt Croatia should not have trouble refinancing its foreign debt next year, a survey of local banks found yesterday, and a Finance Ministry source said the government will seek more long-term debt in future. The European Union candidate, which hopes to complete entry talks next year and join in 2012, has struggled to plug budget holes this year and many local firms have suffered serious liquidity problems. Its foreign debt, comprising the state and private sectors, exceeds 40 billion euros, or more than 90 percent of gross domestic product. (Reuters)