Asian air traffic rises

SINGAPORE: Asia-Pacific airlines flew 10.9 million passengers in April, up by 6.7 per cent from the previous year. In the January-April period, passenger traffic increased by 5.2 per cent on the year to 43.33 million. Air cargo was up by 5.2 per cent in April to 4.47 million tonnes and increased by 5.6 per cent to 17.1 million tonnes in the four months period. Despite growth in passenger traffic, high oil prices continue to pose a threat. — AFP

V’zuela, OPEC dispute

CARACAS: Venezuela’s opposition plans to stage violent protests while president Hugo Chavez hosts a meeting of the OPEC this week, the vice-president said. Jose Vicente Rangel said in a statement that Venezuelan authorities had information regarding “preparations for

a plan to generate violence in the street” during the cartel’s meeting, which begins on Thursday in Venezuela’s capital. — AP

Indonesia to repay

JAKARTA: Indonesia will repay half of its total debt of $7.8 billion to the IMF this year. The government plans to repay the rest of its outstanding IMF loans in 2007. The government has come under political pressure in recent months to pay off the loan, which the IMF gave Indonesia after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis as part of a multi-billion dollar bailout package. Indonesia, which ended the IMF programme more than two years ago, started reviewing the possibility of repayment as its official foreign exchange reserves rose. — AP

Bank privatisation

DHAKA: State-owned Janata Bank is being privatised and handed over to the management of Ireland-based Development International (DI).

This is part of the process of corporatising four major banks nationalised in the 1970s. With the handing over of Janata Bank to the private sector, the prescription of the World Bank and IMF for financial sector reforms will be partly fulfilled. The lending agencies had suggested massive reforms in the corruption-ridden financial sector, emphasising the urgency of privatising all the four Nationalised Commercial Banks — Sonali, Agrani, Janata and Rupali — as prime preconditions for extending assistance. — HNS

BoC, Coutts plan JV

SHANGHAI: Coutts, one of Britain’s oldest banks is in talks with Bank of China (BoC) about a joint venture bank for China’s growing rich set, the Financial Times reported. The talks envision a joint venture after the government lifts restrictions at the end of this year on international banks teaming up with Chinese partners. China promised to fully liberalise its financial sector when it joined joined the WTO in 2001. — AFP

Fortune cooking oil

KATHMANDU: Krishna Nepal Trading Pvt Ltd has introduced four different varieties of cooking oils under the brand name Fortune in the market. The company has launched refined soybean, sunflower, mustard and Kachighani mustard oil, states a press release. “The Fortune brand cooking oil can be consumed by all.” — HNS

Fertiliser shortage felt

MAHENDRANAGAR: The stock of fertilizer in the Agriculture Inputs Corporation (AIC) in Mahendranagar is finished at a high time of cultivation of paddy. Though Kanchanpur is known for more rice yield in the far-western region, farmers are sure to suffer a lot from this. In the past, the corporation has been supplying improved seeds, chemical fertilisers and agricultural tools. — RSS

Thai economic growth

BANGKOK: Thailand’s finance ministry said the economy could grow by 4.5 per cent this year, as prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra told his ministers to find new ways of boosting exports. At 4.5 per cent, Thailand’s GDP growth for 2006 would be the same as last year, driven mainly by increased exports and a rebound in tourism after last year’s slump following the Indian Ocean tsunami. The government originally targeted the economy would grow by 4.5-5.5 per cent this year. — AFP

Consumer confidence

BERLIN: German consumer confidence rose to its highest point in five years, as shoppers appeared more optimistic about the future of Europe’s largest economy than the nation’s top finance professionals. The consumer climate indicator rose to 6.8 points in June — its highest level on record. The level was revised up from an initial estimate of 5.5. — AP

Industrial output up

SEOUL: South Korea’s industrial output expanded by 9.5 per cent year-on-year in April, boosted by continued robust sales of chips, cars and handsets. The rise, however, slowed from March’s 10 per cent advance and also fell short of market projections of 10.2 per cent. Output fell by 1.5 per cent month-on-month in April. — AFP