Return to work delayed
Workers at Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc’s Indonesia unit delayed their return to work after a three-month strike because 500 employees at subcontractors lack job security, a senior union official said yesterday. The workers hope to resolve the dispute and start heading back to the Grasberg mine in the central highlands of Papua Island, today, union spokesman Virgo Solossa said by telephone. The strike at the world’s second-largest copper mine ended on Dec. 14 with a deal under which Freeport agreed to a pay increase of about 40 percent for about 8,000 union members and to a framework for a better deal for about 15,000 other non-union workers and contractors.
Budget cut set to increase
The government could cut about 60 billion reais (US$32.1 billion) from this year’s budget, more than previously forecast, as it seeks to reach its primary budget surplus target, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, citing unidentified people at the Ministry of Finance. Officials had previously said 50 billion reais would be cut from the budget, the Sao Paulo-based newspaper reported. The government is aiming for a primary budget surplus of 3.1 percent of GDP this year, Estado said.
Inflation slowdown continues
Inflation slowed for a fourth straight month last month to the lowest level since March 2010, an easing that could give the central bank scope to cut interest rates further. Consumer prices rose 3.79 percent last month from a year earlier, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in Jakarta yesterday, compared with the 3.86 percent median estimate of 14 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Inflation was 4.15 percent in November. Bank Indonesia Governor Darmin Nasution and his board left the nation’s benchmark interest rate at 6 percent last month after cuts in October and November.
Airline subsidy mulled
The Ministry of Civil Aviation said that airlines operating unprofitable flights to remote destinations might be given subsidies to help boost regional connectivity without affecting the carriers’ finances. The ministry recommended setting up a 1 billion rupee (US$19 million) fund to provide financial assistance, according to a report to the Planning Commission, an agency that drafts five-year economic and social programs. The commission’s 12th five-year plan will run through 2017. Airlines offering regional connectivity at the lowest cost to passengers could become eligible for a subsidy from the fund, the ministry said.
Teva CEO to stand down
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd announced that its chief executive Shlomo Yanai will step down in May. The company said in a release on Sunday that Jeremy Levin, a former senior executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb, would replace him. Yanai has been chief executive for five years. Teva said he took the company from the business of mainly generics with US$8.4 billion in annual revenue to a more diversified business with revenue this year expected to reach US$22 billion. The company said Yanai wanted “to move on to a new phase in his career.” Israeli media reported that Yanai, a former general, could become active in politics. Teva is the world’s largest generics drugmaker. It also makes branded drugs for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.