World Bulletin/News Desk
In an about-face, Portugal's government has agreed to negotiate alternative solutions to a social security tax hike that sparked the worst backlash to austerity since last year's EU/IMF bailout, an official statement said on Saturday.
After an eight-hour meeting of the presidential state council that was besieged by protesters and ended long after midnight on Saturday, the council said the negotiations would now proceed between the government, unions and employers.
On Friday, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho promised to "listen to the country" after huge street protests last weekend and criticism of the plan by unions and business leaders alike. He had previously only agreed to "calibrate" the measure.
The plan to raise the contributions in 2013 to 18 percent form 11 percent has undermined a reluctant acceptance of austerity in Portugal, increasing pressure on the government as it strives to meet the strict conditions of the bailout.
"The council was informed of the government's readiness to study, within the framework of the social bargaining process, alternatives to changes in the social security rate," the statement said after the council meeting.
* It also said that "difficulties that could affect the solidity of the ruling coalition have been overcome", confirming earlier statements by the two centre-right coalition partners that they remained committed to the bailout's targets. Junior coalition partner CDS-PP is traditionally against tax hikes.
Thousands of protesters gathered next to the presidential palace where President Anibal Cavaco Silva's met with his council -- the consultative body made up of senior political figures, including Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.
They demanded the government's resignation and chanted: "Thieves, thieves!". Over a hundred stayed until the end of the meeting and booed the council members as they left.
Expresso weekly newspaper said in its weekend edition the premier had decided to abandon the measure, which had irritated workers because it simultaneously reduced social security contributions by companies, but was preparing a new cut in holiday subsidies for workers instead to meet tough fiscal goals of the bailout.
Some analysts say the badly-devised attempt to hike the social security levy will make additional austerity measures harder to swallow now despite the government's retreat and strife is likely to grow especially since Portugal's economic recession is now expected to continue next year.
Portugal has entered its worst recession since the 1970s as it labours under sweeping tax increases and spending cuts, with the centre-right government's popularity slumping to an all-time low after it announced the tax changes.
Vessels were delivered to port of Alexandria on June 17
The economic cost of violence according to the 2015 Global Peace Index has reached a staggering $14.3 trillion with Syria the least peaceful country.
The leading opposition lawmaker has said that Turkish President Erdogan is open to all possiblities for a coalition.
Qatar has filed a lawsuit against the leader of the National Front in France for his comments regarding "terror" activities.
Saudi Arabia will put in place an electronic bracelet system for all pilgrims visiting the country to perform their Hajj duties.
After U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that the central bank was poised to raise interest rates, European stock markets fall.
Italian company Enel will invest 18 billion euro for renewable energy sources in Africa.
Azerbaijani president said in a statement that Southern Gas Corridor project will supply neighboring and European countries for a 100 years
Oil prices rose above $60 due to Iran's call for oil production cut
Economic growth in the Euro-Zone is not at desired levels.
Director and Global Head of Islamic Finance at Standard & Poor's says that growing market for sukuk and new players mark 'significant interest' in Islamic finance.
The Ministry of Finance said that Denmark has written to China to "announce its intention to apply to be a founding member" of the AIIB.
Experts state that the crisis poses risks to the region, which is significant for oil production and exports in the world.
Federal Reserve removes word 'patient;' interest rate increase expected within months. Yellen says timing of rate rise 'not decided,' but will come anytime after April; holds current rates at 0 to 0.25 pct.
Many emerging-market currencies have fallen against the dollar in recent weeks
Anticipated Federal Reserve interest rate hikes making dollar strong against most emerging market currencies, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan says.