World Bulletin / News Desk
Greece's jobless rate climbed to a new record in May, underlining how austerity prescribed to slash deficits and keep bailout funds flowing is hitting the economy on which recovery depends.
Latest data on Thursday showed the jobless rate climbed to 23.1 percent, with nearly 55 percent of those aged 15-24 out of work, a desperate situation that fed into the popularity of anti-bailout parties inGreek elections this year.
The gloomy data coincided with news that the government plans to revive a labour reserve measure targeting 40,000 public servants for eventual dismissal, in a drive to achieve 11.5 billion euros in savings promised to international lenders.
Government officials citing this scheme said Athens also intends to shed tens of thousands of temporary contract workers by streamlining its needs across ministries and state entities.
Unemployment in Greece is already more than twice the average rate in the 17 countries sharing the euro and nearly as bad as in Spain where the jobless rate registered 24.6 percent in the second quarter.
Greece's statistics service reported that unemployment climbed to 23.1 percent in May from 22.6 percent in April.
"My unemployment benefit runs out in a few months, I hope the government keeps its promise to extend it by another 12 months," said Eva Grigoriou, 42, who lost her job in retail trade as the recession led to cutbacks.
"I don't see light at the end of the tunnel with more austerity ahead. Recovery is being pushed back every year," she said.
ANGER AT MAINSTREAM PARTIES
The sharp labour market deterioration, coupled with cuts in pay and pensions and a bleak economic outlook, have fuelled anger against the pro-bailout mainstream parties which suffered major losses in two election rounds in May and June.
The data showed 1.147 million people were officially jobless, 37.2 percent more than in the same month a year earlier.
The bulk of job losses have hit the private sector as most public sector employees enjoy jobs-for-life status.
Other data on Thursday showed Greece's construction sector, once a key growth driver, slumped again in May, as austerity sapped demand for new homes. The statistics service ELSTAT said 31 percent fewer building permits were issued than in May 2011.
Think tank IOBE expects the economy will continue to contract for a fifth consecutive year in 2012, forecasting that gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink 6.9 percent.
"The unemployment rate could go higher and register 24 percent from September. Our forecast is that for the year as a whole it will likely average 23.6 percent," said Angelos Tsakanikas, an economist at the IOBE think tank.
The conservative-led coalition government is keen to convince international lenders it is committed to bring the economic reforms programme back on track before asking for more time to slash deficits to spread the pain of spending cuts.
A controversy surfaced recently after the Public Account Committee (PAC) released a report accusing senior government officials of having fraudulently authorized payment of at least $122 million of public funds to a private company
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez left the meeting visibly angry and declined to comment on the outcome.
A number of potential deals under discussion in recent months could benefit from concessional financing from Tokyo.
The WTO has lurched from one disappointment to another over the past decade as it tries to find a balanced trade deal that all its members, now numbering 160, could support.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he expected the oil market "to stabilise itself eventually" but did not comment on talks with Russia held on Tuesday
Ergun Olgun, the Turkish Cypriot negotiator, said their own exploration would continue and even accelerate if Greek Cypriots pressed ahead with their plans to allow multinationals to exploit the area.
The decision to devalue the naira, according to analysts and central bank figures, appears aimed at saving the country's dwindling foreign reserves
Oil market watchers are divided on the outcome of OPEC's meeting in the Austrian capital. Predictions range from a large production cut to revive prices, to a small reduction, or none at all
The proliferation of smugglers' routes into Bolivia shows how difficult it is to eradicate illegal mining without better coordination across frontiers.
Falling crude prices are fueled by slowing global growth and increased supply.
Ukraine's leading banks said most of their loans to Crimean individuals and businesses were now delinquent.
Deputy Energy Minister Jaime Himende said that "Mozambique has great hydroelectricity potential, and recently they have taken some bold steps to use renewable resources efficiently"
Obama, who hosted Modi in Washington in September, will in January become the first U.S. president to visit India twice, completing a remarkable warming in the relationship
The combined damage inflicted on Russia's economy by Western sanctions and falling oil prices totals about $140 billion.
PM Mahlab said that Egypt eyes sustainable growth to improve the living conditions of Egyptians, noting that the Egyptian economy is currently recovering.
The French economist calls for redistribution of global wealth, which he says is too concentrated in the hands of the few.