NEWS

2004 costs over forecast

PM Costas Simitis met with senior officials to discuss the finances of Olympic preparations in relation to the 2004 state budget which is being drawn up. Afterward, the government acknowledged for the first time that spending was exceeding forecasts. «The 4.6 billion euros (budget) remains… That is our target, but it is obvious that perfectly justifiable and necessary needs may arise, but these will be a small percentage of the budget,» said Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who oversees the government efforts. «If some need for security infrastructure arises, or something similar, we will add it to the budget. But these will be small shifts, of up to 5 percent, to 10 percent,» he said. These amounts are aside from the 2 billion euros on the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee’s budget and funds from the Public Investment Program. Finance Ministry sources say the Games could cost more than 10.7 billion.