Public investment sacrificed again

Construction sector professionals are working on the presumption that the Public Investment Program will be used for the attainment of the fiscal targets this year, too, and not for boosting the real economy.

Half the funds committed to the program — a vital source of funding for the suffering construction industry — in the national budget have been withheld from the market. The Finance Ministry suggests that out of the 1.9 billion euros planned for the program in the year?s first four months, no more than 953 million euros has been disbursed. In the same period last year 1.3 billion euros had been allocated.

For the whole of the year the program provides for the spending of 7.3 billion euros, according to the 2012 budget, but it is certain that this will not be achieved.

The lack of governance, which will have been the case for at least two months by mid-June, is another factor hurting the investment program. Public projects worth 800 million euros scheduled for this period are now certain to be delayed until midsummer, if not September.

Tourism, another engine of the Greek economy, saw revenues slide by a considerable 15.1 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2011, dropping to 396.3 million euros, reflecting the 11.7 percent annual drop in arrivals from abroad, data released by the Bank of Greece showed. In March alone revenues dropped by 11.2 percent from the same month of 2011 and arrivals fell 12.7 percent.

The significant drop in imports has resulted in a further decline in the current account deficit in the January-March period, by 34.5 percent, or 2.5 billion euros, to amount to just 4.7 billion euros. Export revenues — not including fuel and ships — grew by 7.2 percent, while imports contracted by 12.1 percent.

Gross takings from transport services (mostly merchant marine) posted marginal growth of 0.8 percent in the first quarter, but the respective payments were reduced by 11.9 percent, resulting in net revenue growth of 248 million euros.