World Bulletin / News Desk
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, his standing strengthened by winning EU backing for a sovereign bond-buying scheme by Europe's bailout funds, on Tuesday outlined job reductions and other public administration cuts, provoking strike threats from the powerful labour unions.
Monti outlined cuts that include overall personnel reductions of 10 percent and a 20 percent slash in the number of state managers, without giving a timeline, a source present during a meeting with local authorities told Reuters.
"Be careful of creating social conflict," Susanna Camusso, leader of Italy's largest labour union, the Cgil, said before meeting the prime minister.
Camusso said a unified general strike by all the unions in favour of jobs "must be used." Raffaele Bonanni, the head of the second biggest union, said on Monday that he was ready to call a nation wide general strike if cuts were indiscriminate.
After taking office in November to prevent a Greek-style default on Italy's debt mountain, Monti enjoyed a honeymoon with Italians that waned when he clashed with unions over his labour market reform, which parliament passed last week, and as tough austerity measures kicked in.
The spending cuts, needed to head off a scheduled increase in sales tax in October, now threaten to sour relations between government and unions yet further.
By winning support for the bond-buying scheme at last week's EU summit, Monti strengthened his political support at home - which had looked increasingly unstable - and this week's rush to pass spending cuts is aimed at building on his new momentun.
Deputy Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli called the cuts "urgent", adding that Italy was still "under special surveillance" at a European level, according to a source present at Tuesday's meeting with local authorities.
At a meeting with regional government officials earlier in the day, Monti said the cuts would be permanent and would be worth more than the originally announced 4.2 billion euros for this year because of the need to raise emergency funds for May's earthquakes in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna.
The value of the 2012 cuts could be as high as 7 billion euros.
Apart from reducing personnel levels, the government plans to further centralise the state's purchases of goods and services - in particular for health care - and to close secondary offices.
The aim is to head off a 2-percentage-point increase in value-added tax that is otherwise scheduled to come into force in October.
Production from conflict-free mines are bagged and tagged with a barcode to make it easily traceable.
"We will further expand our capacities to be able to respond to the high market growth," Jochem Heizmann, head of VW's China operations told reporters on Saturday ahead of the Beijing auto show.
The State Duma lower house on Friday ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North Korea's debt. It said the total debt stood at $10.96 billion as of Sept. 17, 2012.
Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, is likely to be liquidated after a Tokyo court dismissed the company's bid to resuscitate its business.
Discussions will continue in the days and weeks ahead, but there is no particular deadline for concluding the talks, the official added.
Russia's oil output stands at over 10 million barrels per day, the world's largest, but it needs new sources of crude oil, including hard-to-recover deposits and the Arctic, to sustain this level
The strike at Yue Yuen is not just one of China's biggest in recent years, it's also more clearly driven by workers' fears that they have been scammed by an opaque and convoluted welfare payment system.
When the system is in place citizens will be able to buy a limited amount of subsidised fuel, and will have to pay a normal, market price for any extra quantities.
Production in Upper Nile state's Paloch oilfields, where output has not been hampered by the conflict, stood at 159,000 barrels per day this week.
Dragomir Stoynev accused fellow European Union members of a politically-motivated attempt to scupper the project, and urged the bloc to understand the effect that doing so would have on its members.
The drops have come mainly because Japan did not take any cargoes in March and South Korea is not scheduled to take any shipments in April, according to the tanker data.
Japan's finance ministry and central bank have declined to comment on the payments.
But a survey shows that most people believe inflation is speeding up and could surpass 37 percent this year.
A fifth payment of $450 million was due on April 15, contingent on Iran having diluted half of its most sensitive stockpile of nuclear materials
The year-on-year inflation rate in the 18 countries sharing the euro was 0.5 percent in March against 0.7 percent in February, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said.
Pushed by higher food and shelter costs, the consumer price index rose in March.