NEWS

Government to unveil plans to find another 22 bln euros

It is expected that the government will announce this week a new set of measures that will be designed to slash another 22 billion euros from Greece?s deficit by 2015, but there are concerns and disagreements within the government about where this money is going to come from.

In its mid-term fiscal plan, which covers the period 2012 to 2015, the government will have to find a way to raise 22 billion euros on top of another 1.8 billion that must be cut this year. Greece?s target is to bring the deficit down to 1 percent of gross domestic product by 2015.

Of the 22 billion euros, 15 billion euros will come from spending cuts and 7 billion from increased revenues, according to government plans. The Finance Ministry is hoping that a reduction in the number of civil servants will play a vital role in achieving these targets. It is estimated that 150,000 people will leave by 2015.

The prospect of government departments having to further reduce their expenditure prompted some ministers to raise their concerns at last week?s Cabinet meeting. Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou pointed out that her department?s budget has already been slashed by 6.5 billion euros and any further spending cuts would undermine the country?s efforts to achieve growth.

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos will oversee a reduction in spending of 1.3 billion euros this year and believes it will be difficult to find more room for savings. Labor Minister Louka Katseli has told journalists that it is not realistic for her ministry to reign in expenditure by 8.5 billion euros but that 6.5 billion might be realistic.

Regional Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis has indicated it will be tough for his department to increase revenues by 400 million euros by 2015 when the public investment program has shrunk. Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis has suggested it would be dangerous to cut funding from the police and other emergency services.