ECONOMY

Massive sell off plan moving on

Greece hopes to raise its first revenue from its ambitious 50 billion euro privatization program by this summer, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said on Tuesday.

“We may have the first income from privatizations in the summer,? Papaconstantinou said, adding that the first phase of the program calls for 15 billion euros from privatizations in the next three years.

Speaking to journalists, Papaconstantinou said that the Greek government?s interministerial committee on privatizations will meet on Wednesday.

He said that by the last quarter of the year, Greece will have appointed all of its outside advisors for its privatization program.

In order to help reduce its massive debt pile, Greece earlier this year disclosed a plan to raise some 50 billion euros from the privatization of public assets by 2015.

Among the first moves to be considered by the government?s privatization committee today, are steps to privatize the national lottery; extend the privately-managed concession for the Athens International Airport; and sell-off the government?s stake in natural gas monopoly DEPA.

Despite progress in deficit reduction efforts, tax collections have been consistently falling short of targets.

Data released by the Finance Ministry on Tuesday showed that Greece?s central government budget deficit increased 8.5 percent in the first two months of the year to 1.024 billion euros from 944 million euros a year earlier.

Ordinary budget revenues reached 7.9 billion euros, down 9.1 percent on an annual basis.

?There is a shortfall in revenue, but it?s not a problem that can?t be dealt with,? Papaconstantinou said.

Greek two-year notes sank on Tuesday, leading the securities of Europe?s most indebted nations lower, on concern European Union leaders are struggling to find an immediate solution to the region?s fiscal crisis.

Greek two-year yields jumped by the most since March 9. Greece?s two-year yield advanced 41 basis points to 14.85 percent, after climbing to 14.91 percent.