NEWS

Report claims 2001 deficit up to 5.2 pct

Budget deficits, hidden in recent years through a series of capital transfer operations, could be even larger than suspected. This holds true at least for the 2001 budget, hailed by the government as the first one in over three decades to post a modest surplus, equal to 0.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The intervention by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, forced the government to revise the final figure to a deficit equal to 1.2 percent of GDP. A State Audit Council report on the 2001 budget, submitted to Parliament yesterday, reveals an extra deficit, equal to 3.9 percent of GDP, which raises the final deficit to 5.1-5.2 percent of GDP, over the 3 percent limit imposed by the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact. The report reveals that final expenditure was 52.53 billion euros and not 48.13 billion, as previously claimed.