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Oded Gvuli promoted to TA city engineer

Architect Oded Gvuli has been chosen as the new Tel Aviv municipal engineer. He has served as the deputy engineer for the past four years and will replace Hezi Berkovich. Gvuli, 58, lives in Ramat Hasharon. The city's senior appointments committee announced the decision yesterday, and Gvuli was considered the natural choice after four years as deputy engineer. He was a partner in his own architectural firm, Gvuli-Koren, before becoming a civil servant and had worked with some of Israel's most famous architects before that. (Nimrod Bousso)

200-shekel note is Israeli favorite

The 200-shekel note is now the most common bill in Israel, surpassing last year's leader, the 100-shekel note. Some 152 million 200-shekel notes were in circulation at the end of 2011, an 18% increase from 2010, reported the Bank of Israel in its annual report. NIS 49 billion worth of banknotes were in circulation at the end of last year. The Bank of Israel says it does not determine how many of which denomination are distributed, and the central bank only supplies what customers demand. As to why Israelis are using more of the biggest notes, the central bank said banks are using larger notes to keep their ATMs from running low, and customers are taking out more money. The Bank of Israel said that despite rumors, it has no plans to issue a 500-shekel bill. (Ram Ozeri)

India offers tax breaks on Iranian imports

The Indian government will offer tax incentives to exporters for sales in rupees to Iran, in the latest effort by New Delhi to bolster exports in return for oil from the Islamic Republic squeezed by Western sanctions, a finance ministry official said. Following U.S. and European Union sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, New Delhi is under pressure to cut oil imports from its second-biggest supplier, which provides about 12% of its oil. India has publicly taken a stand alongside other rapidly emerging countries, including China and Brazil, that it would follow only U.N. sanctions, a position criticized in Washington. To skirt the sanctions, India this year decided to buy oil through a mechanism that lets refiners deposit rupees, which are not freely traded on global markets, for about 45% of Iranian crude purchases in an account at UCO Bank. India and Iran plan to increase their annual bilateral trade by more than 60% to $25 billion by 2015. Indian exports to Iran currently total $2.7 billion a year, with oil imports making up most of the difference. (Reuters)

Flower sales jump 25% this Passover

Farmer sold NIS 15 million worth of flowers for the Passover holiday, 25% more than in 2011. But consumers will pay twice that, NIS 30 million, for those same flowers. The flowers are also prettier and will keep longer before wilting. Not because of any special genetic engineering, but simply because the weather was nicer this year, particularly in the last week before they were picked. As a result, the price to consumers will also be nicer. European demand for Israeli flowers also picked up in the last few weeks as they are buying for Sunday's Easter holiday. (Amiram Cohen)