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Deficit down by 46%

According to the preliminary data available for the state budget implementation for the first six months of 2010, on a fiscal basis the deficit presented a 46% year-on-year decline against a targeted 39.5% in the government’s economic policy programme.
The fiscal result of the first six months of 2010 is due to both restriction of expenditures and revenue increases. Nevertheless, these do not yet fully reflect all fiscal measures included in the government’s programme for 2010.
Furthermore, ordinary budget expenditures declined by 12.8% year-on-year against a targeted 5.5% reduction and primary expenditures decreased by 12.7% against a targeted 5.4% annual decrease.
Hellenic Stability & Growth Newsletter: June 2010
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)
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Stability programme on “the right track”

The team of experts from the so-called “troika” (European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank), after completing their monitoring of the progress of the stability programme, said that the latter is “on track on all of the dimensions.”
 The government is ahead of the deficit reduction target set in the plan for this year and tax hikes are boosting revenues, according to the team.
The government is also making progress on more long-term economic reforms, which can help its future finances, they added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister George Papandreou, who attended the European Union Summit in Brussels yesterday, underlined that “his government is determined to go ahead with important and difficult reforms,” in order to put the country on the right path for achieving its goals. 
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou interviews at “El Pais” & “Al Jazeera”

Prime Minister Georges Papandreou was interviewed by the Spanish daily “El Pais” (May 23).

In a three page interview, the premier answered questions regarding the economic situation in Greece noting that the euro-zone has reached a tipping point which will bring it before an “historic reflection period.”
In the case of Greece, the international community did not react in a timely manner, it did not admit that the currency was under attack, and “there was the same fear as when a buffalo leaves the herd.”
Today, the country’s austerity plan is on the right track, but it is not enough if it is to be left without European support. For Papandreou, the support is necessary for all members so to act as deterrent of speculation. “Spain and Portugal were not in a bad situation yet they fell victims of the ambient hysteria.”
In related news, in an interview with Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips  on May 20 in Athens, Papandreou said that Greece will eventually emerge from the crisis with a more viable economy, determined to say “never again.”   
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM Papandreou meeting with French President Sarkozy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou flew to France yesterday, for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy – on an array of issues, focused mostly on economic matters – ahead of today’s European Council meeting.
After his meeting with the French president, Papandreou stated that the Greek government is committed to taking all necessary measures to fix Greece’s public finances.
 “We are ready to take any measures in order to cut public deficit to 8.7% of GDP in 2010 from 12.7% in 2009 and to meet the commitments the government has undertaken in its Stability and Growth Programme.”
Besides the pressing deficit and credit crisis burdening Greece, Papandreou said issues dealing with the Balkans, the Cyprus problem, climate change and even Europe’s position on the international stage were discussed.
Kathimerini daily: Premier talks tough but EU may offer help; Youtube.com: Greek prime minister in France for debt talks

The “Economist” Conference

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A much timely “Economist” Conference was addressed yesterday by the country’s leadership and experts from the financial and business world.

Taking the floor, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou availed himself of the opportunity to note that Greece’s fiscal problems are also an issue for the entire eurozone and marked that a spill-over effect will not leave other eurozone countries unaffected, especially those which are as vulnerable as Greece.
The remarks were reported one day before the European Commission announces its recommendations on the country’s stability programme , which is most likely to receive European approval.   

» “Deficit Fetishism is a Mistake”
Addressing the Conference (Discussion and Debate with Joseph Stiglitz on the World Economy 2010), Nobel Economics Laureate 2001, former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, and Professor at Columbia University Joseph Stiglitz, dismissed fears that Greece will go bankrupt, adding that, when struggling with recession, governments ought to be careful with their rectifying measures.
“Cutting deficits in the wrong way can be counterproductive.”
Kathimerini daily: Greek woes are a eurozone issue

PM George Papandreou at the World Economic Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Speaking as part of a panel – that also included Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet – at the annual World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland (January 27 -31), Prime Minister George Papandreou said that Greece would not leave the euro area and would use the discipline of membership to slash its budget deficit and make long-delayed structural economic reforms. “The answer is very simple. We went [to the market] for borrowing two days ago and we were five times oversubscribed. We’re not looking for money from anywhere else…” said Papandreou. He outlined an ambitious goal to reduce the deficit by four points this year and bring it below 3% by 2012, through measures taken as part of Greece’s Stability and Growth Programme (SGP)
The premier held a meeting with EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia yesterday, and the discussion focused on Greece’s SGP in light of the report that the European Commission will be submitting on February 3, on Greece. 
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso – speaking in Brussels on Thursday – stressed the need for the greater coordination of economic policies in the EU, emphasising that economic policies are not only a national issue, but European as well. Referring to Greece specifically, he expressed the conviction that the Greek government must be supported in its effort to fulfil its commitments in the framework of the SGP. 
See world reports – BBC.co.uk: Davos 2010: Greece denies a bail-out is needed; Reuters.com: Greece says being targeted as euro zone “weak link”

The Stability Programme was submitted

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The cabinet met yesterday  to approve the updated Stability and Growth Programme (SGP) 2008-2011, which was submitted today (15.1) to the European Commission in Brussels.

“We will achieve fiscal consolidation within three years. […] We can do it; this target is feasible,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The premier added that the Stability and Growth Programme does not contain immediate fiscal adjustment measures only, but also a substantial part of the plan for the restructuring of the country.
On his part, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed that the deficit would definitely be cut, as Greece’s economy is expected to expand in the coming next years.
“The Programme was prepared with the decisive involvement of all ministries and it will be implemented through team-work,” said Papaconstantinou.
Kathimerini Daily: Cabinet stands by recovery plan; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Update of the Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2008-2011