Greece cuts first-half budget defict by 42 percent

The debt-ridden Greek government said on Monday it had met its budget-cutting target in the first half of the year, when according to the central bank the deficit was slashed by almost 42 percent.

The country "met its goal" in the first six months of 2010, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said.

The shortfall in the January to June period came to 11.450 billion euros (14.3 billion dollars), down from 19.685 billion in the first half of 2009, according to the central bank.

Papaconstantinou said the budget deficit in the first half amounted to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product.

In June the deficit narrowed to 1.906 billion euros from 5.057 billion a year earlier.

Papaconstantinou said the government would soon make public its estimate of the public deficit for the first half of the year.

"The goal for the year is to reduce the public deficit by 40 percent and we are doing better than that," he said, adding that he had "guarded optimism" on the implementation of tough austerity measures -- tax rises and public sector wage cuts -- aimed at shoring up the country's parlous public finances.

The Socialist government has committed itself to reducing the public deficit to 8.1 percent of output this year from its current level of 14 percent.

The austerity measures were approved by the administration in exchange for loans totalling 110 billion euros from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Source: AFP

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