NEWS

Budget to smile on pensioners

As the government heads toward the second half of its term in office, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said low-income pensioners will be among the winners in next year’s budget. The 2006 budget, which is currently being drawn up, will offer a boost to those who draw low-income pensions, such as retired farmers, Alogoskoufis said on Saturday from Washington. The conservative government will draft next year’s budget figures with care, since its deficit must be lower than the 3 percent limit allowed by the European Union. A possible slowdown of the economy or the continuing rise of already-high oil prices are factors that could easily derail the government’s budget plans. In a newspaper interview published yesterday, the finance minister said public servants are likely to see an increase in their salaries closer to the government’s forecast inflation rate of 3.5 percent. «We will give them the largest possible increase,» Alogoskoufis said.