Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis said on Saturday that the government’s budget for 2004 was growth oriented, allowing one trillion drachmas more for social policy than in 2003.
”This is also a growth oriented budget as for the eighth consecutive year it envisages a pace of growth 10 times higher than the European average,” Fotiadis told parliament during a third day of debate on next year’s budget.
He added that under governments of the ruling PASOK party, employees’ income had risen by 22 per cent while in other European countries the increase was zero during the process of economic and monetary union.
Parliamentary debate on the budget ends around midnight on Monday with a roll-call vote after a five-day session. The house is expected to pass the bill.
By means of the budget, the government wants to show that economic growth will not come to an end after the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
It contains a growth target of 4.2 percent next year from 4.0 percent in 2003, reflecting an anticipated 7.0 percent rise in investments.
It also forecasts an increase in the export of goods and services; a decline in unemployment to 8.0 percent from 9.0 percent currently; a 2.5 percent rise in productivity; and a 3.4 percent rise in real wages.
Inflation is forecast to fall to 2.5 percent in 2004 from an anticipated 3.0 percent this year.