ECONOMY

Brussels ‘worried’ about revenues

European Commission officials reportedly argue that the Greek Stability and Growth Program has laid out extremely optimistic targets as far as revenues are concerned. They suggest that instead of the additional 3.4 billion euros expected over 2009 inflows, there will only be an extra 1.7 billion euros going into the public coffers this year. The response from the Finance Ministry is that the Commission has not informed them of the matter and they note that the only doubt expressed by Brussels concerns the effective handling of tax evasion – something that has been promised for years. The Stability Program forecasts that this year’s benefit from beating tax evasion will amount to 1.2 billion euros. Next week, monitors from the Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will arrive in Athens with the aim, according to sources, of checking the additional revenues the government is expecting. Then on Thursday, February 25, when the Commission is to issue its intermediary report on the course of the macroeconomics of the major European Union economies, it will also publish its first estimates on the developments regarding gross domestic product and inflation in Greece. Sources from Brussels have described as particularly important the meeting of European commissioners on March 9, when the situation in Greece will be the focus along with any additional measures that are required. Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn is expected to arrive in Athens within the first two weeks of March. There was, however, a message of support for Greece yesterday from Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, the former the economic and monetary affairs commissioner: «Greece has very serious problems that can only be dealt with by itself,» he said, adding that «if the Greek authorities accept the responsibility to manage their debt, Greece deserves our support and solidarity.»