ECONOMY

Budget totally out of whack

Spending has spun out of control and revenues are decreasing, according to the General Accounting Office. Figures released yesterday show that over the first three quarters of 2002, public spending rose 13.92 percent to 34.061 billion euros, from 29.9 billion during the same period last year. The target, set in the 2002 budget, calls for a 3.3 percent increase in spending. At the same time, public revenues declined 0.69 percent, to 28.218 billion euros from 28.41 billion in the first three quarters of 2001. This discrepancy means that the government’s borrowing requirements have increased 392 percent, to 5.843 billion euros from 1.49 billion last year. Excess spending is mainly the result of the government’s consistently underestimating the figures in order to present a better picture of public finances as well as its propensity for handouts to civil servants to keep them happy.