NEWS

Record deficit looms 7 bln in November

The state budget deficit for 2002 widened to a record high of 7 billion euros in the first 11 months of last year, double the 3.5 billion euros over the same period in 2001, according to figures published by the Finance Ministry. However, the leadership of the ministry calls the figures preliminary and significantly different from those that will be announced at the year’s end. But there is concern that just one month before the end of the fiscal year the state budget deficit is so large. And this also raises the question as to what new revenues will flow in and what spending items will be slashed so as to slash this deficit from the very high level of 5 percent of GDP. It is worth noting that the same figures show that from January to November, revenues increased by 1.2 percent while spending jumped by 9.4 percent. The news of this large deficit follows on Eurostat’s revision of Greece’s fiscal figures in the last few months which added 5 percentage points of GDP to the public debt, pushing it up to 107 percent in 2001. Reliable sources now say that Eurostat’s revising is not finished yet, and that the EU’s statistical service is probing some «grey zones» of the Greek economy and has asked for more information. One of these concerns the huge amounts spent on military purchases. Eurostat and the National Statistical Service have set up a committee to investigate these expenses. Sources say that this could lead to a further widening of deficits and subsequent burden on the public debt.