ECONOMY

In Brief

Higher spending to up growth and budget deficit forecasts Greece will soon revise higher both its growth and budget deficit forecasts for 2003 to account for higher public spending, a Finance Ministry source said yesterday. According to the source, the ministry’s semiannual report, due next week, is set to project that Greece’s economy will grow by 4.0 percent, up from a previous target of 3.8 percent, helped by higher private and public spending and investment. But expenditures higher than penciled in the 2003 budget plan are predicted to lead to a deficit of 1.1-1.2 percent of GDP, above the original target of a 0.9 percent shortfall. Faster growth and privatization revenues should, however, help Greece squeeze its public debt to below 100 percent of gross domestic product. The original forecast included in the latest update of the country’s stability program envisaged a reduction to 100.2 percent from 105.3 percent in 2002. Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund predicted the budget deficit would widen to 1.4 percent of GDP this year from 1.2 percent in 2002, noting the strong spending growth early this year. In the first four months of this year, primary budget spending grew 18.6 percent year-on-year, less than the 25.2 percent increase in the first quarter, but way above the 2003 target of a 6 percent rise in overall budget expenditures. (Reuters) GNTO sees more North American visitors, plans strong campaign The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) expects the number of visitors from the US to rebound after the end of the war in Iraq and as the anti-terrorist alert is scaled down, it said in a press release. Meanwhile, GNTO’s US-Canada bureau is working on a multimillion-dollar promotion campaign with cosmetics firm OPI which will launch in the spring next year a new series of 12 nail varnish products named after Greek islands. CBC television network is preparing four series of 15 episodes each, titled «Greek To Me,» «Hellenica,» «The Ancient Games» and «Olympic Journey.» Hellas Jet Cyprus Airways subsidiary Hellas Jet will begin operations in Greece today after receiving its commercial license from the Greek government, an airline spokesman said in Nicosia yesterday. Hellas Jet had hoped to begin operating yesterday but a delay in obtaining the commercial license forced the airline to postpone the launch for 24 hours. The airline, a joint venture between the Cypriot carrier and Greek investors Alpha Bank and Omega Bank, will be based in Athens, where it hopes to tap the 2004 Olympics traffic. The airline has leased three Airbus 320s for flights between Athens and four European capitals, Paris, Zurich, London Heathrow and Brussels. (Reuters) Entrepreneurship The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry is holding a discussion on «Entrepreneurship in the Private and Public Sectors: The International Experience and Greece,» at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday at 7 Academias St, to be attended by professors E.S. Savvas of the City University of New York and Robert Hisrich of Casa Western Reserve University. The discussion will be coordinated by Greek academics. Hotel strike Cyprus hotel employees said they have put off a strike planned for today until the end of the month as a goodwill gesture, after mediation by the Ministry of Labor.