Greek budget surplus for 2013 seen topping forecast, says ministry official

Greece's primary budget surplus for 2013 may exceed previous forecasts and top 1 billion euros ($1.37 billion), a senior Finance Ministry official said on Tuesday, citing latest revenue and spending data.

The primary surplus, which excludes interest payments, is being closed watched because twice-bailed out Greece is eligible for debt relief from its euro zone and International Monetary Fund partners once it reports an annual surplus.

The latest surplus forecast compared with an estimate of at least 812 million euros in the budget presented in December.

"Data from the general government, social security organizations and hospitals are good and this is why it (the surplus) may exceed 1 billion euros," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The European Union's statistics agency Eurostat will formally pronounce in April whether Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013. If so, it would have achieved the target a year ahead of schedule under the terms of its 240-billion euro bailout plan. [Reuters]