03 October, 2003
Greece's 2004 budget envisages a 6.2 percent increase in revenues and a 6.9 percent rise in public spending compared with 2003, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, presenting the new budget's main figures after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr Christodoulakis said the budget envisaged a reduction of the general government's deficit to 1.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2004 from 1.4 percent this year and a high growth rate for the Greek economy.
Greece's GDP is forecast to rise by 4.2 percent next year, from 4.0 percent in 2003, annual inflation to drop to 3.0 percent from 3.5 percent and unemployment to ease to 8.0 percent from 9.0 percent over the same period. Real wages are expected to rise by 3.4 percent, up from 2.4 percent in 2003.
The Greek minister stressed that the new budget was growth-oriented because it was maintaining high growth rate, it envisaged a more fair distribution of incomes, higher real pay increases, tax reform benefits, and boosting employment. Mr Christodoulakis said next year's budget included increased spending due to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
He reiterated that the budget would not include any new taxes.
More analytically, 2004 budget envisages a 6.2 percent increase in revenues to 41.420 billion euros, spending would rise by 6.9 percent to 42.550 billion euros and interest spending to rise by 4.3 percent to 9.750 billion euros.
Primary spending are forecast to rise by 7.7 percent to 32.8 billion euros, while spending in a public investment program are forecast to rise by 7.6 percent to 9.25 billion euros.
Spending on co-funded projects are expected to rise by 14.7 percent to 5.3 billion euros, while spending on the national leg (including Olympic projects) are expected to rise by 5.6 percent to 3.95 billion euros next year.
The general government's deficit is forecast to fall at 2.03 billion euros, or 1.2 percent of GDP in 2004 from 1.4 percent of GDP (2.19 billion euros) this year.
Mr Christodoulakis said that the budget also envisaged an average 7.9 percent pay rise to workers in the public sector in 2004, spending of 100 million euros on new hirings and a 12.7 percent increase in pension funds' subsidies.
The government budget also forecasts a 7.7 percent rise in primary spending next year from 7.6 percent in 2003. The general government's debt is expected to fall to 98.5 percent of GDP (161.55 billion euros), from 101.7 percent (154.81 billion euros) this year.
Mr Christodoulakis said that a fall in public debt next year would result from increased privatization revenues (forecast at 3.0 billion euros) and from the sale of lottery licenses.
Source: Athens News Agency