ECONOMY

Public debt figure overruns target

Greece’s public debt in the first half of the year reached 252 billion euros, exceeding the government’s annual target, as data released yesterday showed a large portion of the debt burden will be further pushed onto future generations. The Finance Ministry’s General Accounting Office said in a statement that the debt rose to 251.9 billion euros from 247.4 billion at the end of March, exceeding the government’s target of 250.2 billion euros for the year. The average expected time required to repay the outstanding debt in 2008 stands at 13.71 years versus 13.25 years last year. The figure stood at 6.85 years in 2004, when the ruling conservatives took office from their Socialist predecessors. About a third of bonds, which are used to meet roughly 80 percent of the country’s borrowing requirements, are due in more than 20 years’ time with another 30 percent expiring in 10 years or more. A fifth of the total bonds issued will expire in three years or less. Recent interest rate hikes by the European Central Bank have been increasing the interest payments due on growing debt figures. In 2008, Greece paid an extra 700 million euros in interest payments due to the rate hikes. Since the end of June, the state has borrowed an additional 30 billion euros.