ECONOMY

In Brief

Minister says pension reform due in April MILAN (Reuters) – The government will present a pension reform bill to Parliament in April, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said in an interview published in Italy yesterday. «The aim is to get a decree before Parliament before the end of April, given that the current situation is simply unsustainable,» Papaconstantinou told Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. He said the government was about to start a series of consultations with trade unions on the reforms. He also reiterated that the government aimed to raise 2.5 billion euros in 2010 from privatizations. Hammered by markets over ballooning deficits and debt, Greece has pledged to cut its double-digit budget gap to below the EU’s 3 percent of GDP limit by 2012. Greece’s Stability and Growth Program will be ready by next week and will be sent to the European Commission around January 20, Papaconstantinou said. «It should be clear that financing needs this year will be less than those of 2009, when they reached 60 billion euros,» he said. Moody’s upgrades ‘resilient’ Turkey ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Ratings agency Moody’s yesterday upgraded European Union-candidate Turkey, citing growing confidence in the country’s ability to absorb shocks, bounce back from recession and tap international credit markets. Analysts said a ratings upgrade for Turkey was long overdue, given the strength of the country’s banking system, Ankara’s ability to borrow at record low yields in 2009, attract sustained interest from international credit markets and proceed without funding from the International Monetary Fund. Moody’s, which had put Turkey on positive watch last September, lifted its rating by one notch to Ba2 from Ba3 and changed its outlook to stable from positive. The foundations for long-term growth in Turkey looked robust, it said. «Although Turkish growth has contracted very sharply… the resilience of the public finances relative to past such crises has been notable,» said Sarah Carlson, the lead analyst for Turkey in Moody’s Sovereign Risk Group. Turk Treasury Turkey’s Treasury posted a cash deficit of 2.127 billion lira ($1.45 billion) and a cash primary deficit of 1.703 billion lira in December, it said in a statement yesterday. In November, the Treasury posted a cash deficit of 5.682 billion lira and a cash primary deficit of 4.172 billion lira. The cash budget measures the money the Treasury actually receives and pays out in the month and the primary balance excludes interest payments on the country’s debt. The Treasury added that in 2009 as a whole it had a cash deficit of 49.37 billion lira and a primary cash deficit of 4.57 billion. (Reuters) Turkish Airlines Flag-carrier Turkish Airlines’ total passengers increased 24 percent in 2009, Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said yesterday. The minister said Turkey’s government would invest $3.5 billion in 2010 in aviation, including $2 billion worth of aircraft purchases for Turkish Airlines. (Reuters)