Greeks strike ahead of budget vote


Schools, banks and public transport were affected by Tuesday's strike. Also in business news, Croatia is in the top 10 in terms of earnings from international tourism during the first nine months of this year.

Protesters shout slogans in central Athens during protests against new austerity measures and a rally marking a 48-hour general strike on Tuesday (November 6th). [AFP]

Thousands of Greeks walked off their jobs Tuesday (November 6th) as part of a 48-hour nationwide strike against a fresh set of austerity measures parliament will vote on on Wednesday. The action, organised by Greece's two biggest labour unions, which represent 500,000 workers, brought public transport to a standstill and shut schools, banks and local government offices.


Rating agency Fitch on Monday (November 5th) upgraded Turkey's credit rating to investment grade for the first time since 1994. The move came amid Turkey's rapid economic growth, the easing in near-term risks with moderate and declining government debt and the country's sound banking system.


Greece and Portugal have requested technical advice from the World Bank to help them recover from the deep economic crisis, Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Sunday (November 4th). This is the first time in recent history that developed countries have sought out the bank's advice. Kim said the bank would be paid for its work in the two countries.


Slovenia is the leader among the former Yugoslav countries in terms of gross value added per employee last year, according to a survey published by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Sarajevo last week. The country tops the list with 36,966 euros in value added per an employee, followed by Croatia with 25,576 euros, Montenegro with 16,585 euros, Bosnia and Herzegovina with 15,517 euros, Serbia with 13,557 euros and Macedonia with 10,208 euros.


The Czech Republic's biggest power producer CEZ announced on October 31st that it is considering leaving Albania due to its failure to resolve a dispute with the government regarding tariffs and extraordinary taxes. CEZ runs Albania's electricity distribution network. Its dispute with the country escalated in the summer, when the government imposed an extra tax of 23 million euros on the company.


A UN report has listed Croatia in the top 10 countries in terms of earnings from international tourism during the first nine months of this year. According to UN World Tourism Organisation World Tourism Barometer, published on Monday (November 5th) tourism revenues in the Balkan country since January have increased 10% year-on-year.


Cyprus approved on Tuesday (October 30th) licenses for exploratory drilling to exploit offshore oil and gas deposits in four blocks off its shores -- 2, 3, 9 and 11. US company Noble Energy already holds the license for Block 12. Last year, the firm said it had discovered gas reserves amounting to up to 226.5 billion cubic metres worth an estimated 100 billion euros -- enough to meet Cyprus' gas needs for decades.


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Tirana is hosting the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) Week 2012 as part of Albania's chairmanship of the organisation this year. The meeting, which will be held on Wednesday (November 7th) and Thursday, will focus on Albania's priorities including trade facilitation, customs co-operation, trade in services, boosting regional competitiveness and investment.


Croatia wants to introduce a 2 percent tax on property, local media reported on Friday (November 2nd). The proposal mainly targets unoccupied property. It would waive 90 percent of the tax for property that is occupied by the owners, and 80 percent for real estate that is rented. If passed, the tax will become effective in April 2013.

(Various sources -- 31/10/12-07/11/12)

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