World Economic News
Locusts Eating Tenants: Dresden Public Housing To Raise Rents
Beginning April 1, tenants of the former Dresden public housing agency WOBA, which was sold to the Fortress fund a year ago, will have to pay 15% more for their flats Saechsische Zeitung reported Feb. 22. Given the fact that many tenants are jobless and depend on Hartz IV (government subsidized) pay, they will not be able to pay the increase.
WOBA managers have responded to the broad public outcry with the foul excuse that, as of now, only 7% of the 48,000 flats owned in Dresden will be affected by the rent increases. Apart from the fact that rents will increase also in other sections of the WOBA, soon, the rent aspect serves as a fraudulent message to speculators that investing in Fortress will yield a considerable revenue of 7% or more. That kind of revenue, insiders have pointed out to this news service, cannot be generated by rent increases, but luring more and more investors into the IPO, is designed by Fortress to pay off earlier investors. A swindle, a "ponzi scheme," as they say in New York.
French Bid To Build South African Nuclear Plant
During a visit to Johannesburg, French Industry Minister Francois Loos told businessmen at the French/South African Chamber of Commerce that French nuclear company Areva was anxious build the first in a series of new nuclear power plants that South Africa is planning. France built the only nuclear plants in Africatwo units at Koeberg, near Cape Town. To sweeten the deal, Loos said, France was interested in South Africa's fourth-generation pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR), and that participation in that project, which has been short of investment, would be a possible quid pro quo.
South African Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said from Cape Town Feb. 19 that South Africa is in discussions with Russia to cooperate in processing uranium for sale on the international market, as part of President Vladimir Putin's plan to establish an international nuclear fuel center. Until 1995, South Africa had a nuclear weapons program, and has a reserve of educated and experienced nuclear scientists and engineers. Recently, to prepare for the expansion of its nuclear capacity, South Africa declared its uranium a "strategic mineral." Sonjica said South Africa would also look at reprocessing spent fuel, which, of course, is its sovereign right. The problem is that the Putin/Bush/IAEA international fuel center proposal is premised on the agreement that a nation that buys fuel foregoes its own enrichment and reprocessing.
News of nuclear cooperation between South Africa and Russia in greater detail is included in this week's Russia/CIS Digest.