Greece expects to beat 2014 budget target, may issue more bonds

Greece said on Wednesday it expected to beat a 2014 budget target set by its international lenders and may tap bond markets again with an issue of between 3 and 6 billion euros to plug any potential funding gap over the next 12 months.

Athens sees a primary budget surplus of 2.3 percent of GDP this year, exceeding a target of 1.5 percent of GDP set by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said.

The figures Staikouras announced are part of an updated mid-term budget plan, which the government has submitted for approval to parliament.

"The mid-term plan for 2015-18 marks the country's path towards economic recovery and growth and towards maintaining substantial and sustainable primary budget surpluses,» Staikouras said.

Bailed-out Athens has been topping its budget targets and returned to bond markets earlier this month, in a sign of the progress made in fixing its finances after four years of tough austerity measures that wiped out almost a quarter of its GDP and sent unemployment to record highs of nearly 28 percent.

The mid-term plan sees Greek real GDP growing by an average 3.3 percent in 2015-2018, leading to an unemployment rate of 15.9 percent by 2018.

Greece ended a four-year exile from international bond markets earlier this month with the sale of a five-year bond, and Staikouras said Athens could sell between 3 and 6 billion euros of bonds over the next 12 months.

Greece says it will need no third bailout after the two it already received, worth a total 237 billion euros, to cover its 2010-2014 funding needs. Athens's euro zone lenders are more circumspect and say they are standing by to provide more help if needed.