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Ecofin unlikely to halt funds to Hungary

The Council of Economics and Finance Ministers of the European Union (Ecofin) is unlikely to suspend disbursement of cohesion funds to Hungary due to the high budget deficit in 2005, Austrian Finance Minister and currently Ecofin President Karl-Heinz Grasser said in an interview with daily Népszabadság. "I would not like to speculate on the suspension of disbursements.

We should wait for the new government to be formed after the elections in Hungary and see if it is able to reduce the budget deficit to less than 3% of GDP in a very short time," the newspaper quoted Grasser as saying.

The Ecofin President described the performance of Hungary's government finances as "very weak", emphasizing that Hungary's 6.1% budget gap was the highest within the EU-25, and that the country failed to meet two subsequent recommendations by the European Commission in this respect.

(BBJ 09.i.06)

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