Debt interest up 32 pct

Interest paid to service the country’s public debt rose by 32.1 percent in the first four-month period of 2007, according to data released yesterday by the Bank of Greece, rising to -3.77 billion from -2.86 million in the same period in 2006. Data by the central bank on the balance of payments showed that in the same period the deficit stood at -1.1 billion, recording an increase of 18.2 percent year-on-year. In the first third of the year, foreign capital entering Greece for bond purchases amounted to -12.2 billion, while the amount paid by foreigners for Greek listed company stocks stood at -4.2 billion. Greeks paid -4.5 billion to buy foreign bonds. Greek shipowners in the same period spent -2.08 billion in purchasing vessels, reflecting an 33.6 percent increase year-on-year, while sales of ships returned -670.6 million. The current account deficit expanded by -1.87 billion at -12.18 billion. The specific development, according to experts, reflects a drop in the current transfers surplus, an increase in the trade deficit and an expansion of the income balance deficit. The increase in the overall trade balance deficit by -729 million is primarily attributed to an increase in the trade deficit On the contrary, net payments for fuel imports dropped by -403 million. Excluding ships and fuel, the trade balance income from exports rose by -277 million, or up 7.8 percent, while payments for imports rose by -994 million, or 8.8 percent. The services balance surplus rose by -127 million, as a result of an improvement in the transport services balance, partly offset by limited net income from travel services (rising 5.2 percent) and an increase in net payment for miscellaneous services (up 6.4 percent). The incomes balance deficit rose by -443 million, accounting primarily for an increase in net interest payments, dividends and debits. A drop in the current transfers balance surplus by -833 million, is explained partly by an increase in the general government’s payments to the European Union (especially in February), and partly to a drop in revenues in February, March and April.

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