Greece says it won’t meet budget-deficit target
The country’s deficit this year is expected to reach 8.5 percent of gross domestic product, or $25.2 billion — higher than the targeted $23.1 billion, which would have been 7.8 percent of GDP, the ministry said.
Greece has been reliant since May 2010 on regular payouts of loans from a $150 billion bailout from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. It was granted a second package of about the same amount in July, but details of that deal remain to be worked out.
The Finance Ministry said the missed target was because of a deeper-than-expected recession, with the economy contracting by 5.5 percent instead of the 3.8 percent estimate made in May.
The announcement also reflected the government’s frustration with tax collection, which they blame on tax inspectors’ lax performance, and its fear that citizens, angry at seeing their wages shrink and, at the same time, having to pay an increasing amount of one-off taxes, would refuse to pay.
Report: Colombia still not safe for labor unions
BOGOTA, Colombia — A new study challenges claims from the administration of President Obama that Colombia is making important strides in bringing to justice killers of labor activists and thus deserves congressional approval of a long-stalled free-trade pact.
The Human Rights Watch study found “virtually no progress” in getting convictions for killings that have occurred in the past 4½ years.
It counted just six convictions obtained by a special prosecutions unit from 195 slayings between January 2007 and May 2011, with nearly nine in 10 of the unit’s cases from that period in preliminary stages, with no suspect formally identified. At least 38 trade unionists have been slain just since President Juan Manuel Santos took office in August 2010, says Colombia’s National Labor School.
Democrats in the U.S. Congress have long resisted bringing the Colombia trade pact to a vote, citing what they said is insufficient success in halting such killings. The White House says Colombia has made significant progress in addressing anti-unionist violence and is pushing for congressional approval as early as this week of the Colombia agreement.
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