Search on for budget remedy

After a week of political bickering with the opposition party and even with his own conservative peers on structural reforms, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis returned to work only to find state finances full of holes and talk of another blowout in last year’s budget deficit. Alogoskoufis said yesterday that the Finance Ministry’s next move will be aimed at tax dodgers and stamping out illegal fuel trade in a bid to lift sagging revenues. Budget revenues in the first five months of the year rose just over 4 percent, well short of the 11.4 percent target. «The budget problems are big. I have never hidden this and believe that in order to achieve our targets, more measures may be needed,» the minister said. Data released earlier this week showed that a booming illegal fuel business is also robbing state coffers of about 2 billion euros per year. On the deficit front, some media reported yesterday that it will come in at 6.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2004 in comparison with an already revised 6.1 percent estimate.

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