Greece posts primary budget surplus in first 11 months of 2012

Greece posted a primary budget surplus of 2.3 billion euros in the January-to-November period of 2012 against a deficit of 3.6 billion in the same period of 2011, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The general government primary balance did not include interest payments.

Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said that the data was an indication that measures to curb spending are beginning to pay off.

"This development in the implementation of the budget indicates that the dedicated fiscal, adaptation and discipline efforts are paying off, setting the conditions for the gradual restart of the economy, with the aim being to jump from a cycle of deficit into the cycle of sustainable growth on a solid basis," Staikouras said.

Eurozone finance ministers in November agreed to give Greece a two-year extension to 2016 to meet a primary-surplus target of 4.5 percent of economic output.

Meanwhile, data from the Finance Ministry also showed that government arrears fell slightly for the first time to 8.56 billion in the January-November 2012 period after reaching a peak of 8.7 billion euros in the January-October period from 7.1 billion euros at the start of the year.

More than half of the arrears are to social security funds, which are owed 4.4 billion euros, the data show.