Greek finance minister sees deficit squeezed by recession

ATHENS, Sept 18 Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:16am EDT

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ATHENS, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Greece's finance minister forecast on Tuesday a wider-than-expected primary deficit for 2012 due to the deepening recession but said Athens was on course to meet the limits set by international creditors for the budget deficit in nominal terms.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the primary deficit, excluding debt servicing costs, would amount to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, compared with a previous forecast of 1.0 percent.

However, he said in nominal terms the 2012 budget would respect the deficit targets set by its international creditors, despite a multi-year recession which will have seen the economy contract by a quarter of its size by 2014.

"The budget this year will close within the limits set by the troika," he said in a conference speech.

"The recession is great. We are in its fifth year and cumulatively so far, recession was of the order of 20 percent and it is expected to reach 25 percent by 2014," he said.

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