Minister sees 0.1% growth
Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said yesterday he would propose to the European Commission growth forecasts of 0.1 percent this year, 1.2 percent next year and 2 percent in 2015. The government will present new growth and deficit forecasts to the commission in the middle of this month. “It’s a prudent and realistic estimation,” Moscovici told Europe 1 radio. He said he would base this year’s deficit target at 3.7 percent of GDP because of weaker-than-expected growth, and 3 percent by the end of next year.
Emigration rises by a third
Emigration rose by nearly a third last year to 79,000, with a growing number of young people choosing to leave the crisis-hit country, local media reported yesterday, citing official data. The number of citizens registering as foreign residents rose from 61,000 in 2011. Most of the emigrants came from wealthier regions in the north and their favored destinations were Germany, Switzerland and Britain. The data showed a sharp rise in emigrants from the north compared with the south — the source of waves of emigration during the 20th century — that accounted for just 27 percent of the total, from 61 percent in 2011. The highest number of emigrants last year — 13,156 people — came from the Lombardy region, which includes the business hub, Milan.
Firms suspend production
Seoul said yesterday that 13 firms had been forced to suspend production at a joint industrial zone in North Korea and warned of a “critical” situation if Pyongyang continued to ban access to the site. Pyongyang has barred South Koreans from entering the Seoul-funded Kaesong Industrial Complex just over the border since Wednesday. With no additional personnel, fuel or other materials allowed into the estate, nine firms suspended production yesterday, joining four others that had already done so, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korea affairs. Pyongyang has allowed South Koreans still in Kaesong to leave and one worker who had fallen sick was permitted to cross the border yesterday with a driver, leaving a total of 514 South Koreans and four Chinese in the complex. The ministry said about 40 others would return to Seoul today, further thinning out the presence of South Koreans in the complex, who usually number at least 700.
Data ‘show financial crimes’
A trove of data obtained by a journalists’ group that details thousands of offshore accounts reveals several instances of swindles and other financial crimes, the Washington Post reported yesterday. Among the 4,000 US individuals listed in the records, at least 30 were accused in lawsuits or criminal cases of fraud, money laundering or other serious financial misconduct, the report said. They include billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who was convicted in 2011 in one of the biggest insider-trading scandals in the nation’s history, and Paul Bilzerian, who was convicted of securities fraud, the paper said. The head of the group, Gerard Ryle, obtained the data — involving 2.5 million records of more than 120,000 companies and trusts, set up by two offshore companies operating in the British Virgin Islands and in Asia and the South Pacific — on a hard drive after investigating a fraud and offshore haven case in Australia.