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Greek 11-Month Budget Deficit Widens to 20.5 Billion Euros

Greece’s state budget deficit widened 5 percent in the first 11 months of the year, better than a revised target for the period.

The gap, which excludes outlays by state-owned institutions and companies, rose to 20.5 billion euros ($26.5 billion) from 19.5 billion euros a year earlier, according to preliminary figures received by e-mail from the Finance Ministry. The figure came in below a target of 21 billion euros set in the 2012 budget, it said. Final figures are due later this month.

Ordinary budget revenue declined 3.1 percent in the first 11 months as Greece’s recession weighed on tax collection. Spending rose 3 percent, or by 3.7 billion euros, boosted by a 20 percent increase in debt-servicing costs that added 2.6 billion euros to the bill, the Athens-based ministry said.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s 2012 budget, approved on Dec. 7, aims to reduce the fiscal deficit to 5.4 percent of gross domestic product from 9 percent this year. Efforts to trim the shortfall have deepened the recession, now in its fourth year. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development expects the economy to contract 6.1 percent this year, more than the 5.5 percent forecast in the government’s budget.

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