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Austrian report
by Euro Reporter
2013-12-05 09:35:25
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Austria producer prices decline for ninth month

Austria's producers prices fell for the ninth consecutive month in October, Statistics Austria said on Friday.  Industrial producer prices dropped 1.4 percent year-on-year, following a 1.1 percent decline in each of the previous two months.

The latest decrease was largely due to a 5.4 percent fall in prices in the energy sector and a 1.7 percent slump in prices in the intermediate goods manufacturing. Prices rose 1.1 percent in the production of consumer goods.  Month-on-month, producer prices dropped 0.3 percent in October.


Conservatives threaten to end Austrian coalition talks

Austria's conservative leader has threatened to break off coalition talks with the Social Democrats in an increasingly heated debate over how to plug a looming hole in state finances. The sparring between the mainstream parties — both weakened by poor showings in September's election that bolstered the eurosceptic far right — will test their pledges to end such squabbling and ensure the Alpine republic's prosperity. Michael Spindelegger's People Party (OVP) has been pressing Chancellor Werner Faymann's Social Democrats (SPO) to embrace austerity as a way to help close an estimated 24 billion euro ($32 billion) financing gap over the next five years.

On top of a rising pension bill and deep subsidies for the state-owned railways, Austria's nationalised banks may stretch public finances with a need for fresh capital — Hypo Alpe Adria alone will need up to 5.4 billion euros by 2017. Senior SPO officials have played down the need for tough measures such as pension reform, arguing that steps the previous government adopted, including a public sector hiring and wage freeze, just need to be implemented properly to achieve the goal of balancing the budget by 2016. Faymann annoyed many conservatives by saying at the weekend he saw no need for any new savings package that would have a tangible impact on Austrians.

Spindelegger, in an interview with the Kurier newspaper published on Tuesday, demanded "a solid plan for the next five years or else I won't enter a coalition". He cited the need to reform Austria's bloated bureaucracy and cut railway subsidies. "We need a restructured budget. The is the basic precondition for the OVP to join a government. I somewhat fail to see the readiness of the SPO to face these facts," he added, putting chances for another coalition at 50:50. The SPO wants to strike another deal with the OVP to extend the centrist coalition that has governed since 2006. The conservatives have left their options open and flirted with the idea of leading a centre-right government. Most analysts expect the two pro-Europe parties that have dominated post-war politics to close ranks and govern together again after rattling sabres to impress their rank and file. Faymann, under pressure from SPO ranks to preserve the country's generous social safety net, played down the tumult. "I am convinced that with good will we will reach an agreement before Christmas," he told Austria's ORF radio, although he said he expected some tough discussions.


Austria questions 20 players over match-fixing

Twenty current and former footballers in the Austrian league are being treated as suspects over match-fixing and up to 17 first and second division matches could have been manipulated in the last seven years, criminal investigators said Thursday. The revelations came one day after the arrest of defender Dominique Taboga, who was released by first division SV Groedig two weeks ago over match-fixing allegations. Altogether, six people are currently in custody in connection with the case, including former Austria international forward Sanel Kuljic and two Albanian citizens, investigators and state prosecutors told a news conference in Salzburg.

Investigators said that the 17 matches under suspicion included nine in the Bundesliga, the top flight of Austrian football, of which three were played this season involving Groedig. These were Groedig's 3-0 defeat by local rivals Salzburg in October, their 1-1 draw at home to Wolfsberger earlier this month and their 2-2 draw against Rapid Vienna, also this month. The remaining eight games were all in the Erste Liga, the second tier of Austrian football. Nine of the 17 matches involved former Bundesliga club Kapfenberger, relegated at the end of the 2011-12 season.

Federal criminal investigator Andreas Holzer told the news conference that a list of 30 players had been found in Operation Rinas as police carried out house searches in Vienna, Salzburg, and the provinces of Carinthia and Lower Austria. "Twenty of them have already been questioned and are being treated as suspects," he said. "As you can imagine, the investigations are very complicated, it's an international investigation which is difficult to carry out." He said that in some cases, bets may have been placed on incidents such as penalties or corners rather than the result of the match itself.


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