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Bbc.Co.Uk
Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Tax increase

PORTUGAL'S president has signed into law a controversial 2013 budget imposing big tax increases. The budget takes effect on Tuesday, but correspondents say it may yet be challenged in the constitutional court. For most Portuguese workers the tax rises are equivalent to more than a month's wages. The standard income tax rate is rising from 24.5 per cent to 28.5 per cent. The savings are Portugal's toughest in living memory, aimed at meeting the terms of a $EUR78billion ($F184.2b) bailout. Although President Anibal Cavaco Silva signed the budget there is speculation that he may ask the constitutional court judges to check its legality. Portugal's economy is projected to have shrunk 3 per cent this year, and another contraction of at least 1 per cent is expected next year, making it the third year of recession. The unemployment rate has risen to nearly 16 per cent.

Internet rules

CHINA has tightened its rules on internet usage to enforce a previous requirement that users fully identify themselves to service providers. The move is part of a package of measures which state-run Xinhua news agency said would protect personal information. But critics believe the government is trying to limit freedom of speech. The announcement will be seen as evidence China's new leadership views the internet as a threat. The Chinese authorities closely monitor internet content that crosses its borders and regularly block sensitive stories through use of what is known as the Great Firewall of China.

Radiation threat

TOKYO Electric Power Company (Tepco), owner of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has been sued by eight US sailors over radiation exposure. They claim Tepco lied about the threat posed by the leaks after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant. The sailors were involved in relief operations after the natural disasters. They have each sought $US10m ($F17.7m) in compensatory damage and $US30m ($F53.18m) in punitive damages from Tepco. The eight, who have filed the case in a US Federal Court in San Diego, also want Tepco to set up a $US100m (177m) fund to pay for their medical expenses. They claimed the utility provider created an impression that the level of radiation leaks from the nuclear plant did not pose any threat. As a result, the sailors went to areas that were unsafe and exposed to radiation.





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