Irish credit rating is downgraded

26 08 2010

The Irish Republic has had its credit rating downgraded by a leading ratings agency, Standard and Poor’s (S&P).

S&P fears that the growing cost of propping up the country’s troubled banking sector will further weaken the government’s finances.

It now thinks that the Irish government will spend 90bn euros ($101bn; £74bn) helping the banks, 10bn euros higher than previous estimates.

The country’s own debt agency described the analysis as “flawed”.

It claimed that S&P’s outlook was based on an “extreme and unrealistic” scenario of the cost of recapitalising the banks and questioned its calculations.

S&P cut the rating one step to from AA to AA-, its lowest since 1995.

This follows clearance earlier this month for an additional injection of 10bn euros into Anglo Irish Bank.

The agency now forecasts that net government debt – the sum of all borrowing – will rise to 113% of GDP in 2010. That would be a substantial increase on the 64% level recorded in 2009.

Continue Reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11081069





Pakistan seeks IMF loan restructuring after floods‎

25 08 2010

Officials from Pakistan are holding talks with the International Monetary Fund to discuss its $11bn loan package in the wake of the devastating floods.

The IMF’s regional director, Masood Ahmed, told the BBC the organisation wanted to find a way to help Pakistan “through this difficult phase”.

This could include lowering some fiscal targets or allowing Pakistan to apply for emergency natural disaster funding.

Earlier, UN officials described the humanitarian situation as critical.

They said that although the UN had raised 70% of the $460m (£295m) needed for emergency relief, many people had yet to receive any help. In the UK, relief agencies say public donors have now given £29m ($45m).

Government officials and aid agencies in the southern province of Sindh said 80% of those affected had fled their homes.

The Indus river outside the city of Hyderabad is at its highest for more than 50 years and is expected to rise further on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is expected to hold high level talks on Tuesday on Pakistan’s medical needs, amid growing concern of a public health disaster.

Doctors have been overwhelmed by the need in some areas – skin rashes and dehydration are common, many children have diarrhoea and there is concern about the spread of cholera.

Continue Reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11060119





IMF set to approve Sri Lanka loan payment

25 08 2010

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has indicated it will release the next tranche of a multi-billion dollar loan to Sri Lanka.

Following a two week mission to the country, the body gave an upbeat assessment of Sri Lanka’s economy.

It said government targets for deficit reduction were on track, with taxes increasing and spending being cut.

An IMF mission also arrived in Serbia on Monday to assess its economy with a view to releasing a loan payment.

The body agreed a 3bn euro ($3.8bn; £2.4bn) loan with the country last March.
‘Strong growth’

The IMF approved a $2.6bn (£1.7bn) loan to help Sri Lanka weather the global economic crisis last summer.

The Sri Lankan government also said it would use the money to pay for post-war reconstruction following the end of fighting with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Continue Reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11064346





Iceland cuts interest rates to 7%

18 08 2010

Iceland’s central bank has cut its key interest rate to 7% from 8%.

A rate cut had been predicted after inflation eased and the country’s currency strengthened, although the reduction was larger than expected.

Iceland’s interest rate hit a peak of 18% in October 2008 when the country’s banking system was thrown into crisis by the global credit crunch.

The crisis led to the country’s largest banks being taken over by the government.

In late 2008, the International Monetary Fund approved a $2.1bn (£1.4bn) loan for Iceland, making the country the first Western European nation to get an IMF loan since 1976.





Bank of England member votes again for rate rise

18 08 2010

A member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has voted again for a rise in interest rates.

Minutes from the MPC’s August meeting show Andrew Sentance voted to raise the Bank rate to 0.75% from the record low of 0.5%, citing high inflation.

It is the third month in a row that Mr Sentance has called for a rate rise.

The other MPC members at the meeting all voted for rates to be held at 0.5% for the 17th month in a row.

They also voted not to pump any more money into the economy under the programme known as quantitative easing (QE), but said they were ready to do so should conditions require it.

The Bank has already pumped £200bn into the economy under QE to help stimulate demand.

The MPC also said that financial markets had improved since its last meeting, thanks largely to the European-wide bank stress tests, which increased confidence in the banking sector.

But it added that lending conditions look set to remain tighter for longer than it had previously forecast.

Continue Reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11009844





Pakistan floods: World Bank to lend $900m for recovery

17 08 2010

The World Bank is to loan $900m (£574m) to Pakistan to help it recover from its worst ever flooding.

The devastating floods have affected up to 20 million people and left some 2,000 dead, say officials.

But the UN says international aid has been slow and that it has raised only a third of the $460m (£294m) needed for emergency relief.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain said it could take five years and $15bn (£9.6bn) for the country to recover.

The World Bank funds will come through the reprogramming of planned projects and the reallocation of money, a World Bank spokesman said.

“We are reprioritising to make the funds immediately available,” he told Reuters news agency.

Health officials have warned that disease could spread quickly among the millions of displaced people and that 3.5m children are at risk.

Maurizio Giuliano, of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), warned that Pakistan would face “a second wave of deaths” from water-borne diseases and food shortages unless more aid arrived soon.

Continue Reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10994989





Gabon moves to diversify economy

17 08 2010

Gabon has signed deals to diversify its economy in an attempt to be less reliable on its dwindling oil reserves.

The government has announced contracts with Asian companies worth $4.5bn billion dollars.

President Ali Bongo signed the agreements on the eve of the country’s 50th anniversary of its independence from France.

The projects will revamp infrastructure and create about 50,000 jobs.
New partners

Gabon’s oil output has been declining for years and the new deals are presented as the first steps towards diversification.

The largest deal is the with OLAM, a Singapore-based company which plans to develop a huge palm oil plantation in the south east.

The government wants to become the leading palm oil producer in Africa.

In terms of infrastructure, the OLAM deal involves the construction of a refinery, and there are plans for a possible port.

Continue Reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10985014