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Government drops grain-export tax

Sat., July 19, 2008, midnight

The Argentine government on Friday rescinded a tax increase on grain exports that had sparked months of protests and bared deep divisions in one of the world’s major food producers.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner pulled back the tax without comment a day after a stunning rejection by the Senate that featured a “no” vote by her own vice president.

The Senate defeat was such a blow that government spokesmen were scrambling to deny rumors that Fernandez was poised to resign less than a year after she was elected to a four-year term.

The tax rollback apparently ends a national crisis that had dominated Argentine political debate since March 11, when the government put new levies into effect. Under that plan, the 35 percent tax on soy exports could have risen to 50 percent or more, depending on market values.

Taipei, Taiwan

Kalmaegi dumps 39 inches of rain

Tropical storm Kalmaegi churned along the Chinese coast today, after leaving 13 dead in heavily populated Taiwan and its president scrambling to explain the island’s apparent lack of preparedness.

President Ma Ying-jeou, faced with the first major natural disaster since his May 20 inauguration, blamed the lack of preparedness for the storm on the Central Weather Bureau, which he said provided inadequate warning to the island’s residents.

The bureau said some parts of the south had recorded up to 39 inches of rain, much higher than its original prediction of up to 14 inches. Kalmaegi has also caused agricultural damage estimated at $10.2 million.


Private use of farmland OK’d

Communist officials decreed Friday that private farmers and cooperatives can use up to 100 acres of idle government land, as President Raul Castro works to revive Cuba’s floundering agricultural sector.

The law published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma did not say how much state land will be turned over to private hands.

But it described the measure as a way to help Cuba solve the problem of underused land while cutting food imports that are expected to cost the government $2 billion this year.

From wire reports


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