Alogoskoufis backs budget

Playing down the skepticism voiced by the European Commission on the state of Greece’s public finances, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday defended his budgetary forecasts for 2005 which he described as «ambitious.» On Tuesday, the Commission said Greece’s stated aim of returning the deficit figures next year to below the 3 percent eurozone ceiling was «based on a rather optimistic scenario.» But Alogoskoufis insisted that the 2.8 percent deficit target was realistic. «We did not present [the deficit] in a frivolous manner,» the minister told private Alpha radio. «We studied everything and, working on this reasoning, we will proceed with our program.» Alogoskoufis also denied that the Commission had trashed Greece’s draft budget. «Nobody sent the budget back [for redrafting],» he said.