ECONOMY

In Brief

ECB meeting to take another look at Greece FRANKFURT (AFP) -The European Central Bank will take a fresh look at Greece today when directors mull monetary policy for the first time since European Union leaders agreed to possible International Monetary Fund help for the debt-ridden country. «The rhetoric on the joint EU-IMF rescue plan for Greece won’t be easy to calibrate» for ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski said. «Together with the European Commission, the ECB was probably the biggest loser [in] the EU solution for Greece» because IMF involvement would dent the eurozone’s credibility, Brzeski said. Analysts expect the ECB governing council to leave its main lending rate unchanged at a record low of 1.0 percent, before Trichet unveils important changes to rules on collateral accepted for ECB loans. Brzeski said bank policymakers would «walk on Greek eggshells,» as Trichet was likely to face pointed questions on the bank’s position on IMF aid after it firmly opposed the option just a few weeks ago. Cyprus sees growth of 0.5 percent next year NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus expects its economy will grow by around 0.5 percent in 2010, following a contraction in 2009, according to the island’s economic stability program submitted to Brussels. «The stability program envisages positive but slow growth of the order of 0.5 percent in 2010 and a subsequent gradual recovery during the program period to around 3.0 percent by 2013,» the report released by Cyprus’s Finance Ministry yesterday said. The island state recorded a 1.7 percent contraction in its economy in 2009. Inflation eases Cyprus’s consumer price inflation eased to 2.4 percent year-on-year in March, down from a February reading of 2.88 percent, the statistics department said yesterday. In the first three months of the year, consumer price inflation was 2.6 percent versus the first quarter of 2009, it said. The year-on-year figure for March alone was «significantly higher» than the 1.1 percent recorded in the same month last year, it said. (Reuters) Energy controls The Bulgarian government yesterday proposed a ban for building solar and wind power farms on quality arable land to temper an investment boom that had sparked fears of grid instability and high energy prices. The ban is part of amendments to the agriculture land law aimed to keep high-quality arable land for farmers. It is pending parliament approval. «The goal is to achieve a better balance between protecting the arable land and the need of the investment growth,» the Bulgarian government said in a statement. The Balkan country, where lucrative incentive schemes to support renewable energy sources created a wind and solar energy bonanza, has already tightened the rules for getting an environment license for building new plants. Bulgaria has received applications for new projects for over 12,000 megawatts – well above its grid capacity – and the grid energy operator had warned that the green energy rush could cause blackouts. (Reuters)