Greece beats 2012 deficit targets

According to an official announcement issued on January 10 by the Ministry of Finance, Greece has beaten budget and primary deficit targets for 2012.
stournaras123The data indicate a state budget deficit of €15.908 billion, compared to a target of €16.312 billion deficit. The report on government budget execution also showed a primary deficit of €3,684 billion, as opposed to a target of €4.577 billion.
Compared to the previous year, the budget deficit fell by €6.866 billion, while the primary deficit is also lower by €2.742 billion, with the state budget balance shrinking by 30.1% compared to 2011.This was due to drastic expenditure cutbacks, which counterbalanced a shortfall in revenues attributed to the reduced inflow of funds from the EU toward the Public Investment Programme.
State budget spending was €355 million lower compared to the target fixed in the national budget.
In a related development, Haris Theoharis head of Finance ministry’s General Secretariat of Information Systems was also appointed to the post of permanent a General Secretary for state revenues, it was announced on January 9.
Ministry of Finance: Announcement on 2012 Budget Execution (in Greek) & Report on 12-month Budget Execution (in Greek); Greek News Agenda: Primary Budget Record Surplus
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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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)

PM George Papandreou at the White House

» Meeting with Obama

Prime Minister George Papandreou met with US President Barack Obama in Washington yesterday.
After the meeting Papandreou said that the US is willing to work with the European Union to regulate the international financial system so speculators cannot target countries with troubled economies.
The premier said  that the issue of speculation will be discussed at the G20 summit in Canada, in June. The two leaders also discussed foreign policy issues such as the Cyprus issue, the integration of Western Balkans into Euro-Atlantic institutions, as well as Greece’s relations with Turkey.

» Visa Waiver

Furthermore, the US side announced that Greece will be included in the ‘visa waiver’ programme, thus enabling Greek citizens to travel to the US without a visa.
Papandreou termed the visa waiver “a vote of confidence” to Greece and noted that the Greek government is determined to respond to its obligations and cooperate closely at international level on the tackling of terrorism.

Kathimerini daily: US joins fight against speculators
The White House: Honouring Greek Independence Day (21.35mins)

» Papandreou’s Op-ed

In an op-ed published in the International Herald Tribune (IHT), Papandreou notes that the Greek case is not an outlier, but one more flare-up in a broken system of financial regulation and predatory behaviour.
“If global economic growth is to be sustainable, we need better coordination and greater solidarity between nations… We must now establish and enforce clear rules to contain the inordinate power of markets over our national economies and our common currency – not for Greece’s sake, but for Europe’s,” he stresses.
Prime Minister’s website: Meeting with President Barack Obama: Prime Minister’s statement ; Brookings Institution: Prime Minister’s speech & YouTube: PM’s speech at Brookings Institution  
New York Times & International Herald Tribune: Prime Minister’s article “Greece is not an island“; Hellenic Finance Ministry: Newsletter Updating Greek Fiscal Measures  
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Tax and spending policy

» PM: Tackling Economic Woes

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou chaired a Cabinet meeting that discussed the draft tax bill and public-sector incomes policy.
He said that the government’s efforts to tackle the country’s economic problems will focus on three axes: reducing public debt, promoting growth, and accelerating legislative and institutional measures.
Papandreou stressed that the government’s primary duty was to save the economy, striving for fair solutions that would protect the lower and middle classes as much as possible.

» FinMin: New Tax Rates

A range of public spending cuts and tax adjustments were presented by the government yesterday, following an announcement last week by the premier that drastic measures would be taken to prevent Greece from defaulting.
Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou unveiled more specific policies, which included plans to cut the salaries of the premier and his ministers, a moratorium on hiring in the public sector this year – excluding however health services –  as well as changes to the tax system, which will now contain more tax brackets and will lead to higher earners paying more.

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

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

Finance Minister Interview in “Der Spiegel”

 
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)      Greece has no current need for credit and the excessive pessimism of the financial markets is unjustified, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told German weekly Der Spiegel, in an interview.
He added that while Greek spreads had soared this week, they would narrow once again, when Greece had proven that it was doing all it could, to improve the country’s financial situation.
“We are in a very serious fiscal situation, we have debts with a dangerous dynamic,” said the minister. “But we have a new government that clearly recognizes the problem. With our savings programme, we will reduce the deficit in the coming year by 3.6 percentage points.”
Papaconstantinou further said that there was no reason for Greece to ask for help from the International Monetary Fund. Instead, it would solve its problems inside the European Union and according to the bloc’s rules. Greece would release a new bond at the beginning of January, he concluded. 
On Friday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said Greece would meet its debt obligations and planned to reduce its budget deficit to below 3 percent of GDP within four years, sending bond yields lower. Today, the premier is expected to announce the measures, his government plans to implement, following talks with representatives of labour unions and business groups.
Foreign and Currency News: Greece has no urgent credit need – Greek Finmin