AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
PARIS: The French government spoke out on Sunday against comments by International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde suggesting that Greeks were dodging taxes. “I find Lagarde’s comments rather simplistic and stereotypical,” government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told French television after the IMF managing director’s comments last week outraged Greece.
Cairo shares plunge
CAIRO: Share prices on the Egypt Exchange declined by almost 3.5 per cent on Sunday, a day after the first results of a landmark presidential election. The main EXG-30 index shed by 3.49 per cent to reach 4,789.14 points at closing in the bourse’s first session since the presidential poll on May 23-24. Final votes were still being counted, but unofficial results suggested that the top two candidates were the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq, a former premier under ousted president Hosni Mubarak. “The first results of the presidential election have added to the political nervousness and uncertainty for the future,” financial analyst Mostafa Saad said. The top two candidates are set to face each other in a June 16-17 run-off, but official results from the election commission are yet to be announced. The election is the final phase of a military-led transition marked by political upheaval and deadly clashes. The economy has been hit hard by the popular uprising that ousted Mubarak in 2011.
Swiss eurozone plan
GENEVA: Switzerland does not foresee a break-up of the eurozone but is nonetheless drawing up an action plan in the event of its collapse, the country’s central bank chief said on Sunday. Thomas Jordan, who became chairman of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) last month, told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper that a working group was discussing measures to combat any strengthening of the safe haven Swiss currency. The bank intervened in September to stem the rise of the Swiss franc which had soared as investors sought a secure place for their cash, hurting Swiss exports and the tourism industry. Jordan said the eurozone crisis had worsened in recent weeks and he foresees bumpy times ahead. Jordan said the bank would defend its exchange rate floor against the euro of 1.20 francs. It closed at 1.2014 on Friday. The SNB has consistently said it will enforce the minimum rate and is prepared to buy unlimited quantities of foreign currencies if necessary.
UAE’s pipeline plan
FUJAIRAH: A pipeline being built by the United Arab Emirates to pump most of its oil exports from east coast terminals bypassing the Iran-threatened Strait of Hormuz, will be operational in June, the ruler of Fujairah said in an interview. “The pipeline will be operational in June,” said Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, whose east-coast emirate is one of seven that make up the UAE. Construction of the 360-kilometre (225 miles) pipeline began in 2008. The pipeline will have an initial capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) rising to 1.8 million bpd, which represents the bulk of the UAE’s current production of around 2.5 million bpd, Sheikh Hamad said. The Habshan-Fujairah pipeline will carry oil from fields in Abu Dhabi on the Gulf to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman. Fears of a closure of the Strait of Hormuz intensified in recent months after Iran threatened to close the strategic outlet to the Gulf if western governments kept up their efforts to choke off its oil exports in a bid to rein in its controversial nuclear programme. In addition to the exports of the UAE and Iran itself, all the oil exports of Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar are shipped through the waterway. Iraq also pumps the bulk of its exports through ports on the Gulf.