ATHENS (MNI) – Greece’s public deficit in the first half of this
year is expected to be 46% below that of the previous-year period, the
Finance Ministry said Monday, citing preliminary data.

“The annual target of deficit reduction based on the package of
measures introduced by the government is 39.5%,” the ministry reminded
in a press release.

The reduction in the deficit so far is mainly the result of deep
cuts in spending, as the expected upturn in revenues has been lagging.

Net revenues for the first half grew by 7.2% on year, compared to
the target of 13.7% for the full year, the ministry said. Expenditures
in the first half fell by 12.8% on the year, compared to a full-year
target of -5.5%.

Value-added tax returns have been particularly weak, as consumption
has suffered amid cuts in salaries, benefits and pensions.

While the government appears to be ahead of target in fiscal
consolidation, the deficit figures could worsen in the months ahead,
when more complete data are available concerning the shortfalls in
public utilities, local governments and the social security system.

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