World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkmenistan's parliament has approved a $1.2 billion budget deficit for next year to help fund plans to raise salaries and pensions in the gas-rich former Soviet republic, state media reported on Saturday.
The state budget for 2013 envisages outgoings of $31.5 billion versus income of $30.3 billion. The reclusive Central Asian state, which closely guards economic data, did not reveal the size of the deficit in relation to gross domestic product.
Economic growth in Turkmenistan, a country of 5.5 million people, hinges on the development and export of the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves. BP data shows the country consumed less than half the gas it produced in 2011.
Almost every aspect of life in Turkmenistan is controlled by President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a trained dentist who goes by the unofficial nickname of "Arkadag", or The Patron.
State newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported Berdymukhamedov as saying next year's budget would include a 10 percent increase in salaries and a 15 percent rise in pensions, as well as investment in the water supply, housing and schools.
Turkmenistan's GDP expanded by 11.1 percent in the first nine months of this year, largely on the back of an 8.5 percent increase in gas production. State media have not disclosed the actual size of GDP or natural gas production.
The country has the capacity to produce about 75 billion cubic metres of gas annually and plans to triple output by 2030 after developing large gas fields to supply China, Iran, southern Asia and Europe, as well as traditional market Russia.
A monitoring mission from the International Monetary Fund, which visited Turkmenistan in July, said it projected real GDP growth to remain strong in 2012 and 2013, at about 8 percent a year.
Tuvakmammed Japarov, governor of Turkmenistan's central bank, said on Oct. 17 that inflation in the first nine months of the year was less than 4.7 percent on a year-on-year basis.
Ecuador, Egypt, Pakistan, Venezuela, Belize, Cuba, Cyprus, Greece, Jamaica and Ukraine are all on the verge of a default, according to Moody's ratings.
A World Trade Organisation pact to ease worldwide customs rules collapsed late on Thursday over India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling.
India's new nationalist government has insisted that a permanent agreement on its subsidised food stockpiling must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal
Chemicals firm LyondellBasell has emerged as the mystery American buyer of Kurdish crude oil this year, but said it will not be buying any more
Some EU member states remain nervous about the impact on their own fragile economies. The sanctions deal was agreed only after initial proposals were narrowed.
Bankers in Singapore say Russians looking for a new Cyprus have come to the wrong place.
The default could get much messier and take longer to clear up if creditors force an "acceleration" for early payment on their bonds.
The ban came a day after the European Union and United States imposed their first sanctions aimed at hitting broad sectors of the Russian economy
Russia called new U.S. sanctions "destructive and short-sighted"
While the default will obviously hurt the economy, it will not be as severe as in 2001, economists say
The Czechs, who supported the action, have been against sweeping sanctions, worried about trade relations with Russia
The trade program has been criticized for disproportionately benefiting certain industries and a handful of countries, including Nigeria, South Africa and Angola.
The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying some 1 million barrels of crude worth about $100 million, arrived off the coast of Texas on Saturday but has yet to unload its disputed cargo.
The uncertainty comes at a bad time for the 18 countries in the euro zone, whose economy is already in the doldrums.
"Kalashnikov regrets that consumers are faced with such a problem," said spokeswoman Yekaterina Boni.
Cairo and Khartoum had earlier accepted a proposal by Addis Ababa to hold the talks in Sudan in the third week of August.