Greece sticks to target of reducing deficit by 4 percentage points in 2010

08:51, April 23, 2010      

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The Greek government will retain the target of reducing the country's budget deficit by 4 percentage points by the end of 2010, as pledged in the Stability and Growth Program, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday.

"There will be no changes in our plans," Papandreou stressed during a cabinet meeting on economy, after a Eurostat announcement that the Greek fiscal deficit stood at 13.6 percent of GDP in 2009 after all, higher than the 12.7 percent estimated so far, while public debt stood at 115.1 percent of GDP.

In 2008, Greece's fiscal deficit was 7.7 percent of GDP and public debt at 99.2 percent of GDP. A similar comment was made by the Greek Finance Ministry that Eurostat's latest data confirm the claims of the current socialist government -- the previous centre- right administration had altered figures to hide the bad situation of the national economy before last October's general elections.

Papandreou also blamed the previous government for the economic crisis the country faces today during the cabinet meeting, stressing that the support mechanism of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund which is available today, if Athens chooses to use it "in this emergency period is a success for Europe and should not be regarded as a source of fear and panic."

As the government has started a new round of consultations with a visiting group of EU-IMF experts in Athens from Wednesday that will run for almost two weeks, Greek citizens fear for a new wave of austerity measures under foreign pressure.

"Greece is in no position to draw red lines in the talks with EU and IMF, but we should keep in mind that if we choose to do so in the end, we will not resort to IMF but a mainly European safety net," government spokesman George Petalotis told a Greek radio.

Source: Xinhua


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