Malaysia woos visitors

SHIMLA: In a bid to attract tourists from smaller Indian towns, the Malaysian tourism ministry began a three-day long tourism roadshow. Bhupesh Kumar, marketing manager of Malaysia’s tourism ministry, said, “There has been a 20 per cent increase in Indians coming to Malaysia, taking the figure to 172,966 in 2004. This has made India the 10th largest contributor to tourist arrivals in Malaysia.” — HNS

GM recalls sedans

WASHINGTON: General Motors Corp said it would recall nearly 300,000 Saturn L Series sedans and wagons because of problems with brake and tail lights. The problem could make it difficult for the driver of another vehicle to realise the Saturn’s brakes were being applied and lead to a rear-end crash. GM, the world’s largest automaker, said in some vehicles the plastic coating in the rear tail lamp assembly could become distorted if the brake light remains on for an extended period of time. — AP

Referendum on lira

ROME: Italy’s labour minister called for a referendum to see if Italians want to temporarily bring back the lira after widespread popular discontent over high prices that many blame on the introduction of the euro. The idea was dismissed by both the European Commission as well as other leaders of Italy’s governing coalition, and currency markets shrugged off the news. — AP

Budget shortfall

BERLIN: German finance minister Hans Eichel warned lawmakers that the country would be $12.23 billion to $14.68 billion over budget for 2005. Eichel said the labour market alone would account for a shortfall of between $7.34 billion to $8.56 billion. This is largely attributable to naggingly high unemployment of more than 11 per cent combined with social welfare reforms that have transferred more unemployment payments from the states to the federal government. — AP