Penalties await careless spenders

Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis sent a message to all ministries and government-funded bodies yesterday, informing them of the possibility of further cuts to their 2011 budget allowances if they fail to stick to tougher rules. In a circular distributed by the Finance Ministry on the 2011 budget, Sachinidis said that if there are budget overruns by ministries then this will be offset by cuts to other approved amounts in order to make sure that 2011 goals are achieved. Even in the case of payroll expenses, ministries will have to cover their operating costs from approved sums, the circular said. Otherwise, they will have to find the money to pay salaries on their own, it added. «In the event that the approved expenses for payrolls are not enough, based on the annual budget, then additional funding will come from the government body’s own revenues or any reserves which they may have,» said the circular. Additionally, Sachinidis informed ministries and state-funded bodies that they should not take for granted the amounts penciled in next to their name in the 2011 budget. According to the memorandum agreement Greece signed with the European Commission and International Monetary Fund in May in order to obtain the 110 billion euros in funding, each month ministries have the right to draw one-fourteenth of their annual budget up until September. In September, the Greek Finance Ministry will then decide whether the remainder of the 2011 allocation will be paid. The Finance Ministry has stressed to all bodies that the top goal for 2011 is to meet its deficit-cutting goals and that this will not change over the course of the year. In January, senior Finance Ministry officials will meet peers from all other ministries and social security funds in order to map out their 2011 action plan and make sure that they don’t diverge from the annual goals.

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