ND sees state overborrowing

Opposition New Democracy yesterday accused the government of undermining the economy after borrowing a total of nearly seven billion euros in a massive splurge over the past month. On Wednesday, the government took out an international syndicated loan by selling 10-year bonds worth a total of 5 billion euros, while the target is to borrow some 15 billion before the March 7 national elections. Much of Greece’s recent borrowing is believed to be dictated by the cost of the summer Olympics – for which major construction work is still under steam, just seven months before the opening ceremony – as well as by the need to pay for public sector salaries and state pensions. Yesterday, New Democracy’s shadow economy minister, Giorgos Alogoskoufis, claimed that the new loan pointed to the state of the economy. «Once again, the government proves that it has led the country’s fiscal management to an impasse,» he said in a statement. «In less than one month, the government has taken out three loans in order to cover the public sector’s immense borrowing requirements.» Alogoskoufis said Wednesday’s new loan was directly linked with the forthcoming election, and accounted for a sixth of the public sector’s total borrowing needs for 2004. «A government in the process of resignation has no right to undermine the prospects of the economy and the country any further,» he said. Apart from Olympics-related expenses and salary payments, within the first quarter of 2004 the government also has to spend large sums on repaying the principal of older loans, including loans taken out in the mid-1990s with high fluctuating rates.

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