ECONOMY

In Brief

December jobless rate at 10.2 percent Another 70,961 people joined the ranks of the unemployed in December 2009, compared with the same month in 2008, taking the jobless rate to 10.2 percent at the end of last year from 8.9 percent at end-2008, according to data released yesterday by the National Statistical Service (NSS). The seasonal factor saw the rate drop from 10.6 percent in November. NSS data showed that the number of unemployed in December reached 505,110, a decrease of 26,843 relative to November. The problem is greater among those aged 15-24, for whom the unemployment rate is 18.9 percent, compared to 13.7 percent for those in the 25-34 age range. Unemployment is far greater among women (14.8 percent) than among men (6.9 percent). Firms promise to bear cost of VAT hike One after the other, local companies are announcing that they will not pass on to consumers the increase in value-added tax effective as of Monday, March 15. The latest company was listed food retailer Grigoris, following similar announcements from MEGA personal hygiene products, food company Chiquita Hellas and supermarket chains Lidl, Aldi and Carrefour. Last Monday the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) had asked its members to take this step in order to lighten the burden on consumers, with traders expecting turnover this year to drop by 8.3 billion euros due to the decrease in income of the middle and lower classes. Cyprus recession Eurozone member Cyprus failed to come out of a recession in the last quarter of 2009, having recorded quarterly contractions throughout the year, statistics showed yesterday. For the whole of 2009, GDP growth contracted by 1.7 percent, the statistics department said. «Numerically the recession is more shallow than elsewhere, but we must also bear in mind that Cyprus is not used to negative rates of growth,» said Pambos Papageorgiou, an economic analyst. In the final three months of the year, the east Mediterranean island saw its economy shrink 0.3 percent, compared to -0.8 percent in the third quarter, statistics showed. (Reuters) Turkey-IMF Turkey and the IMF, who called off standby loan talks this week, had no disagreement on parameters for a fiscal rule for Turkey but do have different views on future projections, Economy Minister Ali Babacan said yesterday. Turkey’s government said this week a standby loan deal was out of the question and the country’s economy did not need the IMF’s help, ending months of speculation in financial markets. «The newspaper reports of disagreement with the IMF on the fiscal rule are completely wrong. We have agreed with the IMF by 100 percent on the parameters of fiscal rule,» Babacan told a news conference. (Reuters) Bulgaria inflation Bulgarian consumer price inflation edged up to 0.9 percent year-on-year in February from 0.4 percent a month earlier mainly due to a hike in nonfood prices, statistics office data showed yesterday. On a monthly basis, consumer prices were up 0.6 percent. The center-right government sees consumer inflation rising to 2.2 percent by the end of this year, viewing that economic recovery and improved domestic demand will boost pricing power. (Reuters)