Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Earlybird, Feb. 4, 2008

Peor ciego el que no quiere ver ...

The headlines are:

BRAZIL -- Lula to Inject 130 Billion Reais into Accelerated Growth Programme (Click here for link to Estado story): Estado got this exclusive, which confirms that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is trying to avoid the inevitable. One big problem is the lack of government ability to process all the planned projects and finish them before 2010. PAC data released in early November suggested that budget disbursement is losing momentum, primarily due to a lack of government efficiency and to the instigation of several lawsuits against some key PAC projects, specifically regarding land claims. Corruption probes regarding some airport contracts along with delays in approval of environmental licences for electricity plants have also contributed to the backlog. In October 2008, the government had pledged budget funds for only 57 percent of the $7.8 billion that Congress had authorised for PAC projects. Adbid, the agency that represents the infrastructure industry, estimates that 324 large projects face serious delays. Lula can pledge more taxpayers' money for the PAC but clearly the problem isn't money -- but efficiency.

COLOMBIA -- Freed Politician Accusses President Uribe of Negligence; Peace Commissioner Steps Down (Click here for link to Espectador story): Alan Jara, the former province governor who remained abducted by FARC guerrillas for more than seven years, said President Alvaro Uribe is little interested in peace. He slammed the man who most Colombians credit with reducing violence and handing the guerrillas a wave of military defeats. On the other hand, Luis Carlos Restrepo tendered his resignation as peace commissioner after proposing to ban the media from hostage release ceremonies. At this point, Uribe's peace policies seem to raise more questions than answers.

U.S. -- Ticketmaster, Live Nation Seek Merger to Face Challenging Times in Music industry (Click here for WSJ story link): In industries like entertainment, consolidation will be key as consumer spending falls.

U.S. -- Obama Plans to Cut Executive Compensation in New Plan (Click here for link to New York Times story): The Barack Obama administration will impose a cap of $500,000 on the compensation of executives at companies that receive large new infusions of federal bailout money. Political pressure is growing on this issue.

VENEZUELA -- Chavez Denies Rise in Urban Violence in Venezuela (Click here for link to Nacional story): This is the no-comment of the day (see photo.)

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