ECONOMY

Government?s unpaid bills reach 5.3 bln euros

The government owed 5.35 billion euros to private companies or residents at the end of last year, according to Finance Ministry figures.

Money owed by the general government – the combination of local councils, hospitals, pension funds and other state bodies, such as universities – reached 4.52 billion euros, the data showed.

Out of this amount, hospitals owe 2.22 billion euros with another 1.58 billion euros owed by state social security funds.

Finance Ministry sources point out that hospitals bills have been gathering up over the course of several years and not just in 2010.

New bills accrued by hospitals last year were less than a billion euros, the sources added.

Additionally, ministries and regional authorities owed 832 million euros at the end of December, up from 718 million euros in November and 612 million in October.

The amounts relate to debts more than 90 days old.

According to ministry sources, one of the biggest problems faced by the government?s accounting office is collecting the necessary data.

A number of state bodies refuse to send in to the government details on their financial condition despite this being dictated by law.

In December, 1,196 state organisations sent in information concerning their finances out of a total of 1,601 bodies.

The situation improved from November when just 793 bodies had done so, however, there are still those who are slow in sticking to the law.

At the end of 2010, three in four state bodies had still not sent in their financial data.

What remains to be seen is whether the government will put into force a law which says that those who neglect this duty will see a block being put on to their funding.