Not only did the previous government not invest all of the money designated for the Public Investments Program in the state budget in the years up to 2019, but it didn’t even implement some of the expenditure it had claimed to in the context of the program, according to data made public by Deputy Finance Minister Thodoros Skylakakis on Wednesday.
These funds were, according to Skylakakis, no more than resources “parked” at general government entities in order to make the investments program look bigger; however, they did not count as expenditure, and thus were used to feed the primary surplus overrun. As a result, the neglect of the Public Investments Program was in fact far greater than the government admitted.
Skylakakis estimated that out of the 5.6 billion of investments in 2019, only 5 billion constituted actual invested funds, and that in 2018, of the 6.2 billion spent, only 4.9 billion was actually invested; the rest concerned transfers of resources from the central government to general government entities, without in fact implementing any real investment spending during 2018 with that 1.3 billion euros.
This practice by the SYRIZA government was also highlighted by the European Commission in its report on the third post-bailout assessment last June. It referred to a “double budget,” explaining that the public investments budget included many cases of regular budget expenditure with the argument that they were potentially eligible for investments co-funded by the European Union.
For 2020 the budget provides for the program’s spending to reach 6.75 billion euros. Skylakakis said this coincides with the need to absorb 3 billion euros from the European Union subsidies program, up from 2 billion last year.
Skylakakis was speaking on the occasion of the publication of the data on the 2019 budget’s execution, which showed a primary surplus of 4.96 billion euros, above the estimate included in the 2020 budget for 4.4 billion. However, net revenues lagged the target by just 7 million euros, reaching 55.019 billion euros.