Returning and Redemption
Arab sources will finance a huge new international conference center the government plans to build here, reviving a project approved 10 years ago but abandoned for lack of funds. The deal, reportedly engineered by Chancellor Bruno Kreisky during his recent visit to the Persian Gulf states, has been strongly opposed by the conservative opposition in Parliament and was decisively rejected by 90 percent of the participants in a referendum on the subject. Only a few voters took part in the referendum.

Details of the financial arrangement are not known. It is assumed that Kuwait will provide a large part or all of the 7.5 billion Schillings (about $1.5 billion) needed at 4-6 percent interest. Over a period of 20-30 years, the government would buy the center back from the Arabs. The conference center is to supplement the existing office towers of the United Nations International Center on the east bank of the Danube River.

The government’s reversal of its position is seen as a means of stimulating lagging branches of the economy through public expenditures. Although Austria’s overall economy is not in a bad shape, the construction industry has suffered, raising unemployment to four percent this winter, a high rate for a country where full employment has been the norm.