Revenues fall short

In a sign that the Greek economy is finally feeling the impact of the general economic slowdown, the Finance Ministry said yesterday that ordinary budget revenues in November fell 2.4 percent short of the target while over the 11-month period to November, revenues came in marginally improved. Well aware that budget revenues this year would not come up to scratch and produce the ambitious 0.5-percent surplus of gross domestic product as initially envisaged, the government last month issued a more realistic target of 0.1 percent. The 2001 updated stability and growth program submitted to the European Commission early this month attributed this year’s revenue shortfall to the lower tax yield from corporate gains, stock transactions and bank deposits. While the November takings fail to meet expectations, the fact that cumulative revenues came in as forecast means that the revised budget surplus target is well within reach, said EFG Eurobank Ergasias economist Platon Monokroussos. On balance, the 0.1-percent budget surplus for this year is attainable, he said. Finance Ministry statistics yesterday showed that ordinary budget revenues in November were 2.4 percent or 25 billion drachmas off target, as both tax and custom offices reported a lower-than-expected yield. On a year-on-year basis, November revenues rose by 9.9 percent to 1,005 billion drachmas. In the 11-month period to November, public finances showed a slight improvement. The 4-billion-drachma surplus, however, is the smallest this year. The official fiscal target for next year is a budget surplus equivalent to 0.8 percent of GDP, reduced by 0.5 percent to account for the costs of a package of tax measures which come into effect in 2002. Monokroussos said the revised goal presents a challenge.

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