BRUSSELS – Cash-strapped Greece recorded its first primary budget surplus in a generation last year, according to data released by Eurostat on Wednesday (23 April).
Excluding interest on its debt repayments and a number of one-off measures to prop up its banks, Athens recorded a surplus of €1.5 billion, worth the equivalent of 0.8% of its economic output in 2013. Despite this, Greece still recorded an overall deficit figure of 12.7 percent, up by 4 percent on the previous year as the crisis-hit country endured a sixth straight year of recession.
The surplus, which was achieved a year ahead of the schedule set out in Greece’s rescue programme, means that it is entitled to further debt relief on its €240 billion bailout. Talks on debt relief, which is likely to involve lengthening the maturity of Greece’s loans to up to 50 years, will start among eurozone finance ministers following May’s European elections.
“The country and its economy are in a much better position now, after very tough years for households and businesses,” said Greece’s deputy finance minister, Christos Staikouras in a statement.
O’Connor also told reporters that the EU executive would make revised forecasts for Greece’s debt burden in a report published on Friday.
“We are of the view that Greece’s debt is sustainable provided that the programme is implemented,” he added.
Full article: Greek records first surplus as EU moves closer to balanced budgets (EU Observer)