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September 21, 2019
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Greece outlines new austerity as debt load rises

first_imgGreece’s government on Wednesday outlined the new austerity measures it intends to take over the next two years, a series of painful spending cuts and tax hikes that its international bailout creditors are demanding in exchange for rescue loans. The country’s finance minister also submitted a revised draft budget for 2013, with figures predicting the debt load will increase sharply as the recession deepens into a sixth straight year. Unions responded by announcing a 48-hour general strike for next week, when the new measures are expected to be voted on in Parliament. The (EURO)13.5 billion ($17.5 billion) worth of cutbacks for 2013-14 include a two-year increase in the retirement age, from the current average of 65, salary and pension cuts and another round of tax increases, including raising taxes for the interest on bank deposits from 10 to 15 percent. The vast majority of the measures, about 9.2 billion euros, are to be taken next year. They include a 4.6 billion euro cut in pensions and a 1.17 billion euro cut from salaries. Healthcare spending will be trimmed by a further 455 million euros. Parliamentary approval of the measures is essential if Greece is to receive the next installment of its bailout loans – this time a hefty 31 billion euros. Without the funds, the country has said it will run out of money on Nov. 16. Greece’s three governing parties have spent months negotiating these measures with international debt inspectors, who have yet to formally approve them. The talks have severely strained ties in the already uneasy coalition of conservatives, socialists and a small left-wing party. With just days to go before an expected Parliamentary vote on the measures, the Democratic Left has insisted it cannot back them. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has warned that the country will face financial chaos if they are not passed. Finance ministers from the other 16 countries that use the euro said after a telephone conference Wednesday that they hope to decide on Nov. 12 whether to give Greece its next bailout installment, provided the country agrees to the reforms. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, however, warned it was unlikely for that deadline to be met since the German Parliament would have to vote on the issue. Everything will ultimately hinge on a report by Greece’s debt inspectors from the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the troika, on the state of Greece’s compliance with its bailout terms. A delay in disbursing the funds would threaten to leave Greece without rescue financing after Nov 16, when its money runs out. The country could finance itself temporarily by issuing short-term debt, as it has done in the past, but it would not be able to do so for more than a few weeks since it pays very high rates to raise money in bond markets. The strain in the governing coalition was evident in a Parliamentary vote Wednesday on a bill to allow the government to privatize public utilities. The bill passed by majority, but lawmakers from the two junior coalition partners voted against certain articles. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras submitted the revised budget to Parliament Wednesday. The deputy finance minister, however, canceled a scheduled presentation of the budget due to a 24-hour journalists’ strike to protest austerity measures. The revised figures highlight the country’s monumental struggle in turning around its public finances. Government debt is projected to rise to 189.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, above the 182.5 percent predicted in the preliminary draft submitted at the start of October, and up from the 175.6 percent forecast for this year. The deficit is now projected at 5.2 percent of GDP in 2013, up from 4.2 percent predicted in the preliminary draft of the budget – but still an improvement from the 6.6 percent predicted for this year. Predictions of a primary deficit surplus – which strips out the cost of paying interest on outstanding debt – of a modest 1.1 percent have also been revised downwards, with the projection now standing at 0.4 percent for next year. The recession, meanwhile, will be deeper than the 3.8 percent contraction the preliminary draft had predicted, with the new figures estimating the economy will shrink by 4.5 percent. Unemployment is projected at 22.8 percent next year, marginally higher than the 22.4 percent predicted for 2012. Greece registered record unemployment in July this year, with the jobless rate reaching 25.1 percent. National debt will stand at 346.2 billion euros, slightly higher than this year’s 340.6 billion euros, the revised budget showed. The economy is forecast to gradually clawing its way out of the recession and eventually post growth of 3.5 percent in 2016. [AP] Source: Kathimerini Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

August 11, 2019
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Go back to the enewsletter Raffles Singapores re

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterRaffles Singapore‘s reopening is planned for the second half of 2018. Since February 2017, the heritage hotel has embarked on a careful and sensitive phased restoration. Its reopening will see the introduction of new suite categories, lifestyle experiences and refreshed dining concepts.New suite categories For more than a century, Raffles Singapore has offered its guests all-suite accommodations. The restoration will update its suites with new amenities and technology while maintaining the colonial ambience and sense of space.When Raffles Singapore reopens, it will have three new suite categories: Residence Suites, Promenade Suites and Studio Suites. The total suite count increases from the existing 103 to 115.The new Residence Suites, comprising four one-bedroom and one two-bedroom suites, will be located in the Raffles Arcade and are named after famous local cinemas during the early- to mid-1900s: the Alhambra, Diamond, Marlborough, Odean and Theatre Royal Suites. This is in homage to the days when the neighbourhood was known as ‘The Place of Cinemas’.Nestled in the front-most corner of the Main Building are two new Promenade Suites that overlook Beach Road. A tribute to the late-1800s era when Raffles Singapore faced the beachfront, the suites will be named Lady Mountbatten Suite and Lady Sophia Suite, which were converted from existing boardrooms.Lady Mountbatten was the Countess of Burma and wife of Lord Louis Mountbatten who was the Earl of Burma, last Viceroy of India and also Southeast Asia’s Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War. In September 1945, Lord Mountbatten was in Singapore to witness the surrender of the Japanese Forces.Lady Sophia was the wife of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Modern Singapore, and for whom Raffles Hotel Singapore is named after.The Studio Suites that are being added aim to complement the array of suites in the Main Building, enveloped by the colonial charm of the Grand Lobby.Raffles Singapore will continue to provide existing suite categories including:Presidential SuitesGrand Hotel SuitesPalm Court SuitesCourtyard SuitesState Room Suites, formerly known as Raffles Inc. State Room Suites. The renaming reflects the conversion of the workspace into a parlour as well as the spaciousness of the suite.Raffles Arcade: A lifestyle destination for the community and SingaporeOnce reopened, the Raffles Arcade will showcase social spaces and lifestyle experiences. This includes a refreshed Raffles Gift Shop that will house a History Gallery to illustrate the heritage of Raffles Singapore. The Arcade will also be home to a brand-new Raffles Spa, a holistic sanctuary for hotel residents and the community to escape the bustle of the city.“The History Gallery exhibits the hotel’s heritage over the past 130 years, and highlights the role Raffles Singapore played as a landmark in the country, and also in the region,” explained Christian Westbeld, GM, Raffles Singapore. “We are confident the local community will enjoy the refreshed facilities within the arcade that would rejuvenate the experiences within our neighbourhood.”Signature dining experiences at RafflesSignature restaurants and bars since the 1900s, Long Bar, Tiffin Room and Writers Bar, will continue to be a part of Raffles Singapore dining experiences when the hotel reopens.Home of the Singapore Sling for over 100 years, the Long Bar’s plantation-inspired decor will be refreshed, and the famous Long Bar counter restored. Visitors and guests will be welcomed to continue the tradition of throwing peanuts on the floor as they sip on a chilled glass of Singapore Sling.A part of Raffles’ history since 1892, Tiffin Room will continue to serve up delectable North Indian cuisine. Offering authentic specialties served in Tiffin boxes, it will also present an interactive dining experience with tableside service by chefs, complete with freshly ground spices to enhance the occasion. The restored interior decor includes reinstating the wooden floorboards in Tiffin Room to bring back features from the early 1900s based on research by heritage consultants.Furthermore, the Afternoon Tea will now be served at the new lounge in the Grand Lobby, allowing guests to enjoy a quintessential Raffles dining experience amid the soft daylight streaming in from the skylight.Established as a tribute to famous writers that have come through the doors of Raffles Singapore over the years, Writers Bar will be expanded to a full bar and be the place for bespoke cocktails, elegance and intimate conversations.The restoration of Raffles Singapore is supported by award-winning interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, who has worked on numerous restoration projects around the world.Phase Three of the restoration will commence on 13 December 2017, when the hotel will be fully closed. Raffles Gift Shop will move to a temporary location along Seah Street and remain open throughout.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more