NEWS

Deficit to widen beyond forecast

National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday conceded that the general state budget’s deficit will exceed the target of 0.9 percent but once again avoided specifying how big the shortfall would be. He did, however, deny rumors that the deficit would come to 1.7 percent of GDP while noting that deficits were widening all over Europe. Eurostat yesterday made public figures which revise upward by 0.1-0.3 percent of GDP the fiscal deficits of the years 2000-2002. On the other hand, they trim Greece’s public debt to 104.7 percent of GDP in 2002, down from 105.3 percent. Consequently, the deficit in 2000 was 1.9 percent (from the initial 1.8 percent) while the public debt for that year remains at 106.2 percent of GDP. In 2001 the deficit was 1.5 percent (from 1.2 percent) and the public debt was trimmed by 0.1 percent to 106.9 percent. Last year’s deficit was 1.2 percent of GDP, Eurostat said. The upward revision of deficits is partly the result of Eurostat’s taking steps to stamp out creative accounting by some EU member states, such as Greece and Italy, Kathimerini’s Brussels correspondent, Constantine Kallergis, reports. Public spending came to 46.9 percent of GDP in 2002 (with an EU average of 48.3 percent), 47.8 percent in 2001, 49.8 percent in 2000 and 47.6 percent in 1999. Revenues were 45.8 of GDP in 1999 and 45.4 percent in 2002. The GDP itself grew from 112.686 billion euros in 1999 to 141.354 billion euros in 2002.