Record size for gov’t deficit

The central government’s deficit reached the unprecedented level of 30.8 billion euros in 2009, Bank of Greece (BoG) data showed yesterday. This amounts to no less than 12.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, up from 7.2 percent of GDP in 2008, or 17.1 billion euros. These figures illustrate the breakdown in the tax-collection mechanism and the excessive expenditures recorded in 2009, although the BoG figures are slightly different from those used for the 2010 budget: The Finance Ministry estimates the central government deficit at 29.3 billion euros, or 12.2 percent of GDP. This difference is due to payments for defense programs and hospital debts, which BoG records as expenses but are not included in the deficit for the budget. This does not in any way change the estimate of a 12.7 percent of GDP deficit for 2009, ministry sources stressed yesterday. There is also the likelihood of a revision of the deficits for the years from 2005 to 2008, sources said.

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