03 February, 2005
Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis has asked the European Union to postpone debate on Greece's stability and growth plan until after March so that the government may amend the program in the wake of new data and fiscal procedures.
In a letter to the EU Commission, Alogoskoufis said the government wanted procedures underway to tackle the country's excessive fiscal deficit to be taken into account, with the finance ministry seeking to update its existing stability and growth pact after final data was collected on implementation of the 2004 budget.
At the same time, the 2005 budget would not change, the minister told reporters on Wednesday.
The Commission had also received a detailed explanation of statistics that it had queried after the government endeavored to collect all available data on defense spending in 1997-2003. As reliable figures expressed in terms of deliveries had failed to emerge, the data was given in the form of payments, Alogoskoufis said.
"The finance ministry is committed to improving the existing data collection mechanism for armaments deliveries. As part of this drive, a working group has been set up of representatives from the defense and finance ministries," he noted.
In addition, the Greek National Statistics Service was conducting a new enquiry into revenue and spending for social insurance funds and state hospitals that covered the entirety of the two sectors in 2002-2003. Data that had not been submitted to the government by August 2004 would be collected and sent to EU authorities in May 2005, the minister said.
Finally, he reported that the finance ministry would form a committee headed by eurodeputy Yiannis Marinos to make recommendations on minor structural changes in the economy.
Source: Athens News Agency