Tick Tock

by Andrew Stuttaford

Sicily (via the Guardian)

Long renowned for its sultry beauty and deadly mafia bosses, Sicily has now been dubbed “Italy’s Greece”, an island awash with misspent EU funds, state jobs traded for votes and a €5bn debt pile that some fear could push Italy’s delicate economy into the abyss. Union and business leaders last week implored the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, to take control of Sicily’s disastrous local finances and, after credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded the island, Monti himself warned Sicily could default….

A cash injection of €400m from Rome allayed fears of imminent meltdown, but Sicily continues to pay wages to an estimated 144,000 regional staff, nurses, consultants and temporary workers, including around 26,000 forestry workers – more than British Columbia in Canada – many of whom work limited hours and hold down a second job.Full-time office staff total 20,000, one for every 239 inhabitants compared to one for every 2,500 in the northern region of Lombardy, while public officials treat themselves to top wages, notably former waste boss Felice Crosta, who retired on a €500,000 annual pension…

Valencia plus…(via Bloomberg)

The Balearic Islands and Catalonia are among six Spanish regions that may ask for aid from the central government after Valencia sought a bailout, El Pais reported. Castilla-La-Mancha, Murcia, the Canary Islands and possibly Andalusia are also having difficulty funding themselves and some of these regions are studying plans to tap the recently created emergency-loan fund that Valencia said it would use yesterday, the newspaper said, without citing anyone.Spain created the 18 billion-euro ($23 billion) bailout mechanism last week to help cash-strapped regions even as its own access to financial markets narrows.

Germany & Greece (via AFP)

 AFP – German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle ruled out any renegotation of Greece’s budget austerity programme in an interview published on Saturday.

“I see desires emerging in Greece to renegotiate and substantially question the country’s obligations to carry out reforms. I have to say simply, that will not do. It is a Rubicon that we are not going to cross,” Westerwelle told the daily Bild…

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