NEWS

2003 deficit over 3 pct

Greece is headed for the red zone of EU economies, as Eurostat inspectors yesterday gave National Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis a report that is said to put the general state budget for 2003 at 3.3 percent of GDP. This exceeds the 3 percent limit set by the EU and means that Greece will come under Brussels’s scrutiny and could lead to warnings and painful fines. Eurostat’s experts did not accept as budget revenues the income from a share capital decrease of the Postal Savings Bank. They also want fuller information regarding pension fund reserves and question the way in which defense spending is presented in the budget. Greece might get away with a warning at first, as another six countries have excessive deficits, but it is certain that public finances will come under close scrutiny and Brussels will demand measures in line with the Stability Pact.