Skepticism in Brussels over early primary surplus estimates

By Eleni Varvitsioti

As envoys from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Bank prepare to return to Athens next week, senior European Union officials have expressed skepticism regarding Greece’s projections of a primary surplus for 2013.

“It is astonishing that they should have the size of the primary surplus at such an early stage,” one EU official who requested anonymity told Kathimerini in response to a question concerning Greek media reports about the primary surplus.

“Eurostat is working very hard and the earliest it could announce something over the size of the primary surplus is April 22. I have no idea whether the Greek government has got the correct figure or what that may be, but I find this astonishing,” the official added, noting that he hoped the reported figures, which are indeed impressive, prove true.

The troika of creditor representatives is due to return to Greece straight after Monday’s Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

“There remain some pending issues to resolve before the assessment is completed” so that an initial agreement on the course of the Greek program is reached at the March 10 Eurogroup, the same EU official said. The Greek bonds maturing in May are putting pressure on the troika to complete its assessment “long before” that date.

Regarding the next installment, the most likely scenario provides for the delivery of a double tranche to Greece after the conclusion of the assessment, with the EU official saying that “the April installment will be about 10 billion euros.”