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Falling oil prices stretch Venezuela's books to limit CARACAS: Sliding oil prices are deepening the budget crisis facing the Venezuelan government, which is already struggling to fund its lavish subsidies and rigid exchange-rate controls, analysts say.Venezuela, which sits atop the world's largest proven crude reserves, relies on oil sales for 96 percent of its budget.The recent plunge in prices, which have hit a four-year low, is bad news for a government already running a deficit of 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).That may force leftist President Nicolas Maduro to rethink cut-rate oil sales to the nations of Petrocaribe, the club of 18 Latin American and Caribbean allies that pay about half-price for Venezuelan oil.Some analysts estimate the price tag for Petrocaribe is up to $10 billion a year for Maduro -- and that is rising as crude rates fall."This is a situation in which energy agreements may have to be changed, so the decline in revenue is ...

Bitter lessons from old Ebola frontline in Uganda BOMBO: In Ebola-hit communities in west Africa, hope of stopping the deadly virus may seem far away at times.But across the continent in Uganda, villagers who survived an outbreak two years ago describe how after the loss, the rebuilding of communities is tough and painful - but possible.When Sabiti Mugerwa's family became the only ones in their village to fall sick with a mysterious disease in October 2012, they blamed it on malaria - or ...

Italy keen to take a fast boat to China MILAN: Seven hundred years after Marco Polo showed how it was done, Italy is once again knocking on China's door looking to do business.This time around the quest is for capital investment and entrepreneurial inspiration rather than the silks and spices brought home by Venice's celebrated merchant explorer.But the objective and the context have much in common: mutual prosperity at a time of global economic flux.Rather than Italians heading for China, as in Polo's day, ...

High in Pakistan's mountains, women break taboos HUNZA: A group of young Pakistani girls sit on a carpeted floor listening as their teacher writes on a whiteboard, preparing his students for the rigours of climbing some of the world's highest peaks.This is Shimshal Mountaineering School, tucked away in a remote village in the breathtaking mountains of Pakistan's far north, close to the border with China.While most of Pakistan's overwhelmingly patriarchal society largely relegates women to domestic roles, in the northern Hunza valley, ...

Beijing's focus on coal lost in haze of smog: experts BEIJING: The soaring, grimy chimneys of the coal-fired power station have belched the last of their choking fumes into Beijing's air, authorities say -- but experts doubt the plan will ease the capital's smog.The 50-year-old Gaojing facility is one of four enormous generating plants authorities promised to close after the city was repeatedly blanketed by acrid haze.Levels of PM2.5 particulates, the smallest and most dangerous, rose to 16 times World Health Organization recommended limits across ...

Air strikes kill 28 militants in Dattakhel ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's military Tuesday said it had killed 28 militants in air strikes in tribal region near the Afghan border.The strikes, that also killed a number of foreign fighters, took place on Tuesday in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan district, the military said in a statement.In June, the army began an operation in the North Waziristan agency after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and militants.Pakistan's army says ...


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Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
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Trade Balance $-2.807 bln
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WeeklyOctober 20, 2014
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