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26 September, 2002
The cabinet on Thursday discussed a first draft of the 2003 budget National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis presented and then publicized.
According to the budget, the GDP will grow by 4.1 per cent in 2003, compared to an estimated 3.8 per cent forecast for 2002, while inflation will rise by 2.5 per cent in the 2003 fiscal year.
Nominal growth of GDP will stand at 7.3 per cent compared to 7.1 per cent in 2002, the public deficit will decrease by 99.3 per cent, while state income will grow by 5.3 per cent compared to 2002 and privatizations will bring an additional 1.5 per cent of GDP to the state coffers.
The budget ''secures the high growth rates of the Greek economy,'' Christodoulakis said in presenting the 2003 draft budget, adding that financial security was not one of the international scene's current characteristics.
He added that the strong development direction of the 2003 budget was based on the increase by 13 per cent of the public sector investments, which amount to 6.2 per cent of GDP.
Also the growth of the economy will be based on strengthening demand due to tax cuts, provided by the taxation system reform and the increase of public spending.
This first draft of this budget also included surplus of a 0.5 per cent of GDP, compared to 0.4 per cent in 2002, while the increase in public spending will rise by 5.3 per cent compared to 2002. The sector with the highest increase will be that of social security and healthcare, which will rise by 19.1 per cent.
Opposition parties criticize early draft of 2003 budget:
Main opposition New Democracy (ND), the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) criticized the early draft of the state budget presented on Thursday by National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis.
ND spokesman for economic affairs George Alogoskoufis said that ''with today's announcement the government confirmed all that ND has been saying over the past while, that the economic policy is at dead end and the government has been drafting one more virtual image of a budget''.
He called for a change of venue, which would promote a combat against squandering funds in the public sector, adding that ''with PASOK's tempos it will take 80 years to achieve convergence with the European Union''.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said the new budget will bring ''austerity for working people'' and ''benefits for the rich.''
KKE press spokesman Makis Mailis said ''the new budget is also being prepared to follow in the steps of the previous ones: Greater austerity for working people and more benefits for the rich. All that (economy minister) Nikos Christodoulakis said about the budget's social character constitutes a mockery.''
Synaspismos issued an announcement criticizing the budget and saying that it is based on a one-sided policy, which forces sacrifices on the weak and secures profits for the rich.
On his part DHKKI leader Dimitris Tsovolas said the numbers of the budget clearly showed that they are in as a dramatic state as the people of the country.
Source: Athens News Agency