Greece's budget deficit continued to widen in September due to an austerity-driven recession, despite a fresh batch of tax measures that were supposed to start lifting receipts.
The central government deficit grew 15% year-on-year to €19.16 billion in the first nine months of the year, finance ministry data showed.
Debt-laden Greece is scrambling to meet fiscal targets set by its international lenders under a bail-out plan so that it can continue to receive EU/IMF funding and avoid default.
In September, Athens increased sales tax on restaurants to 23% and started collecting a one-off tax ranging from 1-5% on gross income.
But the moves failed to visibly boost net tax receipts, which shrank by 4.2% year-on-year during the months from January to September, compared with a 5.3% drop in the first eight months of the year.
Greece said today it would catch up with a target to increase net tax receipts by 0.8% for the full year, helped by a new property tax and other spending cuts that will kick in in the rest of the year.
"The current revenue shortfall is expected to be dealt with in the last quarter," the finance ministry said. Greece's international lenders said yesterday that Greece would miss its budget deficit target this year, but that it could catch up in 2012 if it acts decisively enough.
Primary spending before interest payments rose by 2.9% year-on-year, mainly because the government increased payments to social security organisations, whose revenues are drying up because of the recession.
Germany cool on Troika statement
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Germany’s finance minister said today that Europe should wait for a full report on the Greek economy before deciding whether to hand out the next tranche of financial aid to Greece.
Auditors from the EU and the International Monetary Fund ended their assessment of Greek reform efforts yesterday, saying they had reached a "staff-level" accord on loans needed to stave off bankruptcy.
But a spokesman for German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble insisted: "What matters is the complete report, drawn up properly, so that it can be analysed.
"We are waiting for the report, we will analyse it and then we will take a decision on the sixth tranche" of aid, worth €8 billion, spokesman Martin Kotthaus said.
Berlin welcomed the fact that the auditors had concluded their mission but said their comments were "only a statement."
Mr Kotthaus also said there should be enough information in the full report to decide on how a second bailout package for Greece should be organised.
Private investors have agreed to accept a write-down of 21% of their holdings of Greek debt but speculation has grown in recent days that they will have to accept greater losses, perhaps up to 60%.
"I assume there will be enough material in the report to enable us to see how a second Greek programme might look," said Mr Kotthaus.
Separately, the president of the German Bundesbank said that a Greek debt write-down could not be ruled out, adding that such a step would not end Greece's problems.
"Greece must get its state sector under control and make its economy competitive. A debt write-down must not become an attractive way out of self-made problems.
"Otherwise trust will never return to the soverign debt issues of at-risk countries," Mr Weidmann told Bild.
Mr Weidmann also warned politicians against leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility bailout fund.
Haircuts to be 30%-50% - euro zone sources
Losses for private investors on Greek debt in the second financing package for Athens are likely to be between 30 and 50%, rather than the earlier agreed 21%, euro zone officials said today.
The euro zone is reviewing the terms of its second financing package for Greece. Four euro zone officials confirmed that a haircut of 30 to 50% for private investors was now under consideration, but said no final decisions or agreements have been reached.
"It is still very much in the open and remains to be seen what the initial reaction of private investors will be," one euro zone official said.
"A voluntary participation is the target, for now at least, and many feel strongly that we must avoid any risk of full default," the official said.
"The haircut will be set at a level compatible with the voluntary nature of the private sector involvement," a second euro zone official said.