NEWS

2004, funds squeeze budget

Olympic preparations and subsidies for pension funds have left the 2003 State budget, which was presented to Parliament yesterday, with little room to maneuver. The proposal forecasts growth of 3.8 percent of GDP, with revenues expected to rise by 5.1 percent and spending by 6 percent. It is noteworthy that ministries’ spending for the Athens 2004 Olympics is forecast at 1.2 billion euros for the coming year. The subsidies for state pension funds are set to rise by 21.1 percent, mainly because of higher subsidies for the Social Security Foundation (IKA), which are to increase by 82.3 percent, the seamen’s fund NAT (9.7 percent), the farmers’ fund OGA (5.6 percent) and credit for assistance to low-income pensioners (up by 17.5 percent). Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said the budget will bring per capita income and wages closer to the average levels in the eurozone.