08 Feb '11, 6am

Flooding and storms that hit Australia could shrink the country's economy to the tune of US$7 billion

CANBERRA - AUSTRALIA'S deputy prime minister warned on Tuesday that extensive flooding and storm damage could shrink the country's economy, as he prepared to seek legislative approval for a new tax to pay for what could be the country's costliest natural disaster. Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan, the government's ranking financial minister, told The Australian newspaper that there could be a US$7 billion (S$8.90 billion) collapse in coal and farm exports as a result of recent flooding and a cyclone last week. He said that could cause the economy to shrink in the first three months of this year, in what would be the first contraction of Australia's economy since 2008. Officials estimated last month that weeks of flooding in Australia's northeastern state of Queensland would cost the government at least US$5.6 billion. The added cost of Cyclone Yasi, which struck the Queens...

Full article: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Money/Story/STIS...

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