ECONOMY

IMF experts to examine state spending

A team of experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will come to Athens this week to monitor the progress of the Greek economy and especially the management of public spending. The group wants to collect data to include in the IMF’s annual report, which will be issued toward the end of the year. Sources say the IMF contingent will place special emphasis on state expenditure, particularly the way it is handled in Greece. Public spending is a major problem for the economy. The government’s efforts to contain it appear successful, although through a doctrine that has avoided tensions and taken into account the social realities of the country at the time, as Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis often says. This year is a crucial one for the Greek economy. If the country meets certain financial thresholds, the European Union will stop monitoring it. The country’s economy has recently received international praise. The latest supporter is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which has said Greece’s economic outlook is indeed improving. But though this is encouraging, the trend must also be reflected in EU data. If it is, then Greece can once again return to the category of economically vibrant countries with a budget deficit below 3 percent. Until then, the country will be closely monitored for any financial misbehavior. The Economy Ministry has recently embarked on a painstaking and demanding effort to improve the country’s relations with all international financial organizations. The highlight of this effort was Greece’s chairing of the OECD congress, a duty which this country fulfilled successfully. However, government sources say the positive reports are not just the outcome of good public relations. They also stem from the improving trends recorded in financial indexes that reflect reality. Alogoskoufis predicts a 3.8 percent growth in gross domestic product and the budget deficit to drop below 3 percent, while the Bank of Greece expects growth to close at 3.5 percent.