B’desh to sack workers

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s military-backed government said on Wednesday it will sack some 14,000 workers in state-run jute mills as part of a move to cut losses in the ailing sector. The workers from the government’s 22 jute mills would be allowed to take early retirement by December this year. The move was taken as the cumulative losses in the state-run mills shot up $691 million at the end of June, 2006. — AFP

Maldives seeks money

COLOMBO: Maldives is seeking international investors to help build ten regional airports as part of a plan to develop nearly three dozen resort islands. “We plan to build 10 domestic airports packaged with tourist resorts, to make it economically feasible to investors. The tenders will go out later this year,” Maldivian tourism minister said. The government plans to develop the 35 resort islands over the next two years. — AFP

Trade surplus shrinks

BRUSSELS: The eurozone trade surplus shrank by 26 per cent in May from April. The Eurostat data agency said the trade suprlus of the 13 nations using the single currency fell to $2.3 billion from April. The May surplus nonetheless marked an improvement from the same month in 2006 when the eurozone chalked up a trade deficit. Despite the euro’s strength, strong foreign demand for eurozone goods helped exports grow faster than imports in May. — AFP

$200m loan for China

MANILA: The ADB has approved a $200 million loan to China to build a road network in the poorer inland areas of Sichuan province. The $1.425 billion Eastern Sichuan Roads Development Project will serve the poverty-stricken areas in the mountainous periphery of Sichuan by connecting two growth areas. A 143-km four-lane toll expressway would be built across mountainous terrain. — AFP

NLIC premium sales

KATHMANDU: Nepal Life Insurance Co Ltd (NLIC) has posted a growth of 60.84 per cent on sales of life insurance premium during the fiscal year 2006-07. It sold 34721 premiums during the period, against 21593 premiums sold during the last fiscal year, states a press release. The premium sold during the period is the largest so far in the company’s six-year sales record. NLIC in the last six years has sold 124,317 life premiums. — HNS

Fuel price hike likely

NEW DELHI: Indian government has not taken any decision to hike prices of transport fuels but will soon hold talks with oil firms on how to tackle the crisis triggered by high global crude prices, petroleum minister said. “We really do not want to hike the petroleum prices. But we are helpless,” he said. — HNS

BoE to hike rate

LONDON: Bank of England (BoE) policymakers voted in favour of raising British interest rates by a quarter-point to 5.75 per cent in July. In voting for a hike, the majority on the Monetary Policy Committee said that money and credit growth remained strong, while corporate activity was buoyant. The BoE’s move to hike the cost of borrowing for the fifth time since August 2006, and to the highest level in more than six years, had been widely anticipated. — AFP

P’pines budget deficit

MANILA: Weak tax collection pushed the Philippines budget deficit to $906 million in the first half, raising fears of a backsliding after three years of fiscal reforms. The shortfall exceeded the target for the six months to June. For June alone, the government posted a budget surplus but that was well below the surplus in the same month last year. — AFP

US inflation declines

WASHINGTON: Wholesale inflation posted a better-than-expected reading as both food and energy costs retreated in June. Industrial production rebounded as well, but homebuilders’ confidence fell to the lowest level in 16 years as the housing slump persisted. Reports painted a picture of a US economy that is emerging from severe slowdown despite the continued weakness in housing. — AP