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Greece Challenges Creditors Over 2014 Budget Before Aid Talks

Greece’s 2014 budget hole will be no more than a quarter the size estimated by the country’s international creditors, a senior Greek official said, signaling a hard line before the next round of aid negotiations.

The Greek government’s fiscal gap for next year would be 500 million euros ($690 million) in a worst-case scenario, compared with about 2 billion euros projected by the euro area and the International Monetary Fund, the official told reporters today in Brussels on the condition of anonymity.

The official, speaking during a meeting of European Union leaders, predicted a clash between Greece and its creditors should they refuse to back down from the forecast of a 2 billion-euro shortfall in next year’s budget plan.

The government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is preparing to resume talks in early November in Athens on Greece’s eligibility for further aid payouts under its 240 billion-euro rescue program, while rejecting any further fiscal tightening.

The Greek government predicts that it will post a budget surplus excluding interest payments in 2013, a year ahead of schedule. The country’s budget deficit in 2009, when Greece triggered the euro-area debt crisis, was five times the EU limit.

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