NEWS

Costs and benefits of Athens Games

Estimating that the cost of hosting the Olympics will exceed 7 billion euros, and with fiscal pressures growing, the government is seriously considering the possibility of selling or leasing Olympic facilities after the Games. Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas yesterday told the Athens Business Club conference that public spending on the Games «is going to far exceed initial estimations which put the cost of the Games at 4.6 billion euros.» The cost of maintaining many facilities after the Olympics is expected to add a further burden to the budget. Doukas said the budget deficit was now at about 4 percent of GDP. He reiterated the government’s target to bring it below the 3 percent limit set by the European Union next year. He said Greece will present a proposal to the European Commission in early November on how it plans to cut deficits and curb public debt. Doukas said the end of the Olympics would help ease public finances as the Games have been absorbing huge amounts of funds. Regarding positive effects of the Games, he noted their success will help inspire confidence in Greece. This, he said, will be accompanied by the great benefit the country has gained through the construction of large infrastructure projects completed in time for the Games. Doukas said the government would have to introduce greater flexibility to the labor market and change the tax system to make businesses more competitive.