In Brief

Portugal announces raft of privatization measures LISBON (AFP) – Portugal, under strong European Union pressure to correct its public finances, announced sweeping privatization measures affecting its airline, rail transport, postal, energy and paper industries yesterday to fight a rise in debt. Also covered by the crash program are bank and insurance activities. The privatization would raise about 6.0 billion euros ($8.22 billion) by 2013, bringing in 1.2 billion euros this year and 1.8 billion euros next year, the government said. The sales would lead to «increased productivity in these sectors and contribute to the essential reduction of the public debt,» which currently amounts to 142.91 billion euros. The expected contribution from the privatizations to reducing debt amounts to about 4.19 percent of the total debt. The measures, being outlined by Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos to EU finance ministers in Brussels are to be debated by parliament in Lisbon on March 25 and then submitted to EU authorities. The urgent program presented yesterday resumed privatizations for 2010-13 which had been suspended in 2007 due to the financial crisis. The Socialist government intends to sell great chunks of the Portuguese economy. It will sell its holding of 8.0 percent in Galp Energia, 25.73 percent in Energias de Portugal and 51.08 percent in electricity distributor REN while retaining a strategic interest. Tourism income in Cyprus falls in first two months Cyprus’s income from tourism fell 5.7 percent in the first two months of the year as the global economic slowdown led to a decline in visitor numbers. Tourist spending in the period dropped to 63.6 million euros ($87.5 million) from 67.5 million euros a year earlier, the country’s statistical service said yesterday on its website. In February alone, visitors spent 33.9 million euros, 6.4 percent less than the 36.3 million euros in the year-earlier month. UK visitors, who make up more than half of overseas tourists to Cyprus, spent an average of 51.70 euros a day, down from 52.30 euros a year earlier. Tourist arrivals to Cyprus slipped 2.4 percent in the two months through February 28, the statistical service said on March 5. The number of visitors from the UK dropped 4.5 percent in February, while tourism from Germany, also substantial, fell 17 percent. Gross domestic product in Cyprus, the euro area’s second-smallest economy, fell an annual 3 percent in the fourth quarter as fewer visitors took holidays on the east Mediterranean island, the service said on Friday. Tourism directly and indirectly accounts for about a quarter of the Cypriot economy. (Bloomberg) Road project Michaniki SA, Aegek SA, Ionios SA and Consorzio Stabile Italimprese won contracts to build sections of a 291-million-euro road project connecting Amvrakia, near Arta, to Aktio, in western Greece, the Athens-based Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. (Bloomberg) Intralot appeal Intralot SA will appeal a Colombian court judgment that ruled in favor of the state-owned gambling company Etesa and its decision to grant Etesa 7.9 million euros in arbitration proceedings. Intralot said the decision has already been appealed to the High Administrative Court. (Bloomberg)

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