NEWS

Deficit enters danger zone

Greece is closing in on a budget deficit close to the 3 percent of GDP limit set by the EU, joining the company of France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden, all of whom have deficits of close to 3 percent or more. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday that the deficit for 2003 was close to 2.95 percent and he assured his colleagues at last week’s Ecofin meeting that Greece will cut its deficits by limiting state wastefulness. He promised that there would be tax cuts and no new indirect taxation in a bid to spur economic development. While pledging that electoral campaign promises would be fulfilled, he added, «The government’s program will be implemented within the limits set by the budget.» The European Commission is to forecast a 3 percent deficit for 2003 and a slightly higher one for 2004 in its spring report tomorrow.