NEWS

Help sought on economic plan

Greece intends to secure the approval of the European Commission for the government’s plan to revive the country’s ailing economy before the scheme is actually submitted to Brussels, sources revealed to Sunday’s Kathimerini. The PASOK government plans to compile its Stability and Growth Program in close cooperation with Commission officials who will be in Athens next week because it wants to ensure that the scheme is not rejected by Brussels. Any slip-up would cause the government embarrassment at home but would also further undermine confidence in the Greek economy abroad. Finance Ministry sources said that the pact would envision the public deficit being reduced to 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2013 from 12.7 percent at the moment. To achieve this, it is expected that the government will soon announce additional measures, such as a reduction in benefits, fewer tax breaks and an increase in taxes on consumer goods. In order to satisfy Brussels, Greece will include in its economic plan specific targets that it aims to attain along with the measures that it will employ to meet them. The Commission has expressed doubt about Greece’s ability to collect all the taxes that it needs to. So, according to sources, the government has called on the International Monetary Fund to help provide Greece with greater know-how in managing its tax system. A team of IMF officials is due in Athens in January to discuss the matter in greater detail with members of the government, who are hoping that the visitors’ experience will be able to help authorities crack down on tax evasion. Another measure the government will adopt in a bid to please Brussels, but also to manage the economy better, is the operation of an electronic system to monitor government spending.