ECONOMY

In Brief

Cash deficit down 28 pct for Jan-Aug; pace slows Debt-laden Greece cut its cash deficit by 28 percent in January-August from a year earlier, a much slower pace of decline than in the first half of the year due to a surge in debt-servicing costs, central bank data showed yesterday. In the first half of the year, the cash deficit fell by 41.8 percent from a year earlier but a 64 percent surge in debt-servicing outlays in August over last year meant the deficit eased at a slower pace as budget revenue was steady. The Bank of Greece said the central government’s cash deficit – the net balance of the state budget including movements in public debt accounts – fell to 15.76 billion euros in the first eight months of 2010 from 21.89 billion in the same period a year earlier, meaning a lower net borrowing need. The target for the full-year 2010 cash deficit is 17.8 billion euros. (Reuters) Tobacco, fuel price hikes boost Bulgaria inflation SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgarian consumer price inflation quickened to 2.7 percent year-on-year in August from 2.4 percent a month earlier due to a hike in cigarette and fuel prices, the statistics office said yesterday. On a monthly basis, inflation in August was 0.1 percent, down from a 0.4 percent increase in July, data showed. The government expects consumer prices to increase 4.1 percent at the end of the year due to a jump in energy prices and recovering economy. Food prices in August, inched up 0.4 percent on a monthly basis mainly due to a rise in the prices of flour and dairy products. Nonfood prices dropped 0.1 percent mainly because of a decrease in the prices of clothes. Under the EU-harmonized consumer price index, inflation was 3.2 percent on an annual basis in August and 0.2 percent on a monthly basis. The economy contracted by 1.4 percent in the second quarter but the government hopes recovering exports and industry will help it claw out of recession later this year. Rompetrol The Romanian fiscal administration ANAF said yesterday it had frozen assets of a Kazakh-owned refinery, Rompetrol, fearing it will not repay debts worth more than 500 million euros. «This is a precaution aimed at preventing the group from selling assets in the coming period,» the head of ANAF, Sorin Blejnar, told Mediafax news agency. Rompetrol, part of the KazMunaiGaz (KMG) group, blasted the move as «groundless and abusive,» stressing it did not plan to sell its assets. «This decision, which ignores legal and contractual stipulations, is the latest in a series of actions targeting Rompetrol,» the group said in a press release. (AFP) Sofia bourse Bulgaria’s Finance Ministry will become a majority shareholder in the Sofia bourse before its planned listing to rule out the risk of a hostile buyout and help find a strategic investor, the bourse said yesterday. The Finance Ministry, which currently has a controlling 44 percent stake in the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, which suffers from low liquidity, will buy 715,000 newly issued shares at 1 lev ($0.655) per share, which will increase the state’s stake to 50.05 percent. Other shareholders include brokerage firms and banks, with a combined 34.2 percent stake, and other institutional investors, which hold 7.3 percent. (Reuters) Bad Bosnian loans Bosnia’s nonperforming loans more than doubled to 8.7 percent of the total credit portfolio in the second quarter from 4 percent in the same period last year, the central bank said yesterday. Lending by the Balkan country’s banks, which are 80 percent foreign-owned, increased mildly to 14.2 billion Bosnian marka ($9.3 billion) in July from 14 billion marka in January, the central bank’s information office said. «I think this is the peak,» said Mijo Misic, the executive secretary of Bosnia’s banking association. «This is the time of credit portfolios cleaning and I think the banks successfully manage these risks.» (Reuters) Serbian CPI Serbia’s consumer price inflation hit 6.6 percent year-on-year in August from 5.1 percent in July, the country’s statistics office said yesterday. (Reuters)