NEWS

Good marks for economy

The European Union is expected to give Greece a major boost today in its effort to end the period of supervision the country’s economy has been put under by Brussels over the last three years, sources said. The Ecofin Council is due to approve today Greece’s revised stability and growth program for 2006-2009 while recommending that the government continues its tidying up of public finances, sources told Kathimerini. Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said he would wait for a recommendation by the European Commission before discussing the end of supervision for Greece’s economy. However, Alogoskoufis said Greece’s economic results had been «better than expected.» «We have achieved an amazing fiscal adjustment with impressive rates of growth and a reduction in unemployment,» he said. «The effort has to continue because we have not confronted all of our fiscal problems. By 2012, we have to produce budgets that are balanced budgets or slightly in surplus,» the minister added. Greece’s economy has been under the supervision of Brussels since 2004 after the ruling conservatives conducted a review of public finances shortly after coming to power in March of that year. The review revealed that Greece’s debt and deficit were larger than previously recorded. The public deficit was found to be more than double the EU’s 3 percent of GDP limit. Although Brussels is expected to give Greece’s economy the green light this summer or autumn, today’s Ecofin report is seen as the last hurdle Athens has to overcome. The council of EU finance ministers is expected to recognize Greece’s progress over the last two years, especially in reducing the deficit to 2.6 percent of GDP but also in steadily reducing its debt. However, Ecofin will also ask the government to keep a tight rein on the country’s public finances.