ECONOMY

In Brief

Romanian unions threaten strikes over IMF cuts BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romanian unions yesterday threatened a wave of strikes which could cripple hospitals, schools and public transport in protest against draconian wage and pension cuts. President Traian Basescu announced the cuts on Thursday, saying they were needed to ensure continuation of a 20-billion-euro aid package led by the International Monetary Fund and would prevent higher taxes and a run on the currency. Romania’s powerful unions will meet Basescu tomorrow, before an IMF review mission leaves Romania and leaders said protests similar to those seen in Greece could be launched if they do reach an accord. «The likelihood that we will strike is big as long as these draconian measures are not abandoned,» said Marius Petcu, head of CNSLR Fratia union, which represents about 800,000 people. «I think in two weeks we will know whether we will strike. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of people that need to be consulted.» Belgrade readies new anti-crisis measures BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia is preparing a set of emergency measures that will enable the government to react swiftly in case of a possible Greek crisis scenario, the finance minister said yesterday. But Diana Dragutinovic said contagion from the Greek debt crisis was not likely. Serbia’s economy enjoyed average growth of 6 percent from 2000 to 2008, but contracted 3 percent in 2009, hit by the global downturn. In 2009 the government introduced a series of measures to boost liquidity and saving, cut spending and allocated funds to help the poor. Unlike Greece, it also concluded a 3-billion-euro deal with the International Monetary Fund. «Critics said the government had been too slow in reacting to the outbreak of the crisis in 2008,» Dragutinovic said. «But we didn’t have a legal framework that would allow us to react. And this set of laws will change that.» Dragutinovic said the measures will include changes in the law on banks and law on ensuring banking deposits and should be approved by parliament in July. «Those measures will be implemented only in case of a systemic crisis,» she told a news conference. Aspis renamed Greece’s Aspis Bank is renamed TBank, it was announced yesterday during its shareholders’ general meeting, while CEO Christos Sorotos and Chairman Dionysios Stavropoulos tendered their resignations. The change in the bank’s name took place in the context of its dissociation from its former controlling stakeholder Pavlos Psomiadis and of the acquisition of a 32.9 percent stake by Hellenic Postbank. TBank will maintain its status as a Hellenic Postbank affiliate and will not be absorbed by it. Serbian rates Serbia’s central bank is likely to leave its key interest rate on hold at a policy meeting on Tuesday, a day before an International Monetary Fund mission arrives in Belgrade for a new assessment of Serbia’s compliance with agreed policy targets. Fourteen out of 21 analysts and currency dealers surveyed expect the bank to keep its two-week repo rate unchanged at 8.5 percent, as the dinar fell to record lows of 100/euro this week, hit by weak global markets. Many in the market do not expect any policy change until parliament approves a new central bank governor. Parliament’s finance committee this week accepted the resignation of Governor Radovan Jelasic. (Reuters) Turk banks’ profit Turkish banks had combined profits of 6.276 billion lira ($4.24 billion) at the end of March, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) said yesterday. Nonperforming loans stood at 3.7 billion lira, the agency said in a statement on its website. Loans totaled 416.8 billion lira, it said. (Reuters) Turkey retail The president of a Turkish retailers’ association, Mehmet Nane said yesterday that she expects revenues of $75-80 billion in the retail sector this year, up from $72 billion in 2009. (Reuters)