ECONOMY

State to spend its way out of crisis

The Economy Ministry is opting for public investment in projects in order to spend the country’s way out of the crisis. Even before the end of the year’s first quarter it has issued payment orders amounting to 45 percent of the annual spending of the Public Investment Program. Of the 8.8 billion euros earmarked for the program this year, the disbursement of some 3.95 billion has already been approved. At the same time, the ministry is also pushing for the implementation of the National Strategic Reference Plan (ESPA) 2007-2013 to include seven major projects that were never completed under Community Support Framework III. Those infrastructure projects have a total budget of 3.2 billion euros, 2.3 billion of which can come from ESPA. They concern two projects involving the Athens metro, the Thessaloniki metro, the new railway line between Lianokladi and Domokos in central Greece, a suburban railway section in western Athens, the improvement and modernization of Thessaloniki airport and a section of the Egnatia Highway in Thrace. The ministry’s aim is to close European Union subsidies under CSF III by end-June and to have significant resources committed from ESPA by the end of the year. However, ESPA is expected to undergo a revision by the year’s end, as the ministry aims to take private and public (European and national) spending to 10 billion euros for 2009.