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Rolex scandal minister rejects blame for Italy kickbacks ROME: An Italian minister caught up in the country's biggest corruption scandal in two decades resigned Friday, admitting he had to take political responsibility for the rigging of public works tenders that cost taxpayers billions.But the outgoing Transport and Infrastructure Minister Maurizio Lupi, who has not been charged or placed under formal investigation, insisted his personal conduct had been beyond reproach."I am not here to defend myself against (criminal) accusations that don't concern me," Lupi said in his resignation speech to the lower house of parliament."I'm here to take political responsibility for the choices that I made and that my ministry made. I leave the government with my head held high," he said.Lupi's impassioned defence came as new leaks from a probe into the allocation of 25 billion euros ($26 billion) worth of infrastructural contracts offered fresh evidence in support of claims the minister used his influence to arrange a ...

Turkey moves to tighten control on Internet ISTANBUL: Turkey's parliament has approved legislation to tighten the government's control over the Internet by allowing it to block websites without prior judicial authorisation, official media said Friday.The Internet legislation is the most controversial article in a so-called omnibus bill containing legislation on vastly different topics that must be passed in full before the individual items become law.The article passed by parliament is very similar to one it approved in September 2014 but was then ...
EU's Russia sanctions extended to end-2015: Tusk BRUSSELS: EU leaders agreed Thursday to effectively extend economic sanctions against Russia until the end of 2015, tying them to full implementation of the Minsk ceasefire accords in Ukraine.The sanctions were imposed after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014, and were due to expire after a year."The duration of economic sanctions will be clearly linked to complete implementation of Minsk, bearing in mind that this is ...
Kremlin turns to YouTube as new 'propaganda weapon' MOSCOW: "I am a Russian occupier," a deep voice says proudly as the video crackles to life with realistic gaming graphics that show a Kalashnikov being loaded by a soldier before the dramatic, throbbing music begins."And I am tired of apologising for it!"The slickly designed YouTube video has been viewed more than five million times in two weeks and is the latest hit in a series of posts to an account apparently held by an ...
Italian minister to quit over corruption scandal ROME: Italy's Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said he would step down on Friday after his ministry was embroiled in a corruption inquiry involving billions of euros in public works contracts. Lupi has faced mounting pressure to resign since Monday, when police arrested four people in a sweeping investigation into the sort of graft that has long undermined Italy's chronically stagnant economy. Lupi himself is not under investigation, but the links between the suspects and his ...
EU leaders in minute's silence for Tunis victims BRUSSELS: European Union leaders observed a minute's silence Thursday as they began a summit overshadowed by the deadly attack on a Tunis museum."I invite everyone to observe a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the terrible terrorist attack in Tunis," EU president Donald Tusk said at the opening of the meeting in Brussels.Twenty foreign tourists, many of them European, were among those killed in Wednesday's attack on the national museum claimed by the ...
UK's Osborne says no 'rollercoaster' ride in his budget plans LONDON: British finance minister George Osborne said on Thursday that his latest budget plans did not represent a "rollercoaster" ride, as described by the country's independent budget watchdog.Osborne said he did not plan to deepen his spending cuts if he remains in his job after May's elections, challenging claims from the main opposition Labour Party.The Office for Budget Responsibility said on Wednesday that the government's new budget statement implied a much sharper squeeze on real ...


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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-999 mln
Exports $2.064 bln
Imports $3.063 bln
WeeklyMarch 13, 2015
Reserves $16.273 bln