ECONOMY

Lawmakers debate 2009 budget

Lawmakers in Parliament yesterday began debating the government’s optimistic 2009 budget, which is facing growing challenges due to the broadening global economic crisis. Discussion of the government finance plan is expected to last for about a week, with the final vote likely to take place just before Christmas. The Finance Ministry predicts Greece’s economy will expand at an annual pace of 2.7 percent next year, down from 3.2 percent in 2008. The budget’s growth forecast has already been revised lower once since being initially presented in early October. However, some economists have placed their growth estimates at around the 1.5 percent mark, while others experts predict Greece will join the eurozone’s anticipated recession in 2009. On the prices front, inflation is seen as decelerating to 3 percent in 2009, from 4.3 percent this year, in a development the government hopes will help to boost consumption spending in the forthcoming year. Opposition parties have described the goals set in the budget as being unattainable, saying it is based on unrealistic expectations.