By Prokopis Hatzinikolaou
Greece has achieved a primary surplus of 435 million euros, according to preliminary figures published on Monday by the Finance Ministry for the execution of the general government budget of 2012, although the state’s expired debts were 1.7 billion euros more than in 2011.
“General government figures confirm that the government has achieved its fiscal targets for 2012,” Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said.
Ministry officials say that the state deficit data for 2012 are going to be adjusted soon, but are certain to beat the target of 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, ending at between 1.2 and 1.3 percent.
In regards to the state’s expired debts, these ended at 8.7 billion euros last year, up from 7 billion in 2011, according to the figures published by the General State Accounting Office.
The general government deficit dropped to 12.5 billion euros or 6.6 percent of GDP from 19.68 billion or 9.4 percent of GDP at end-2011. The target for 2012 had been set at 12.88 billion euros. Primary balance data show a surplus of 435 million euros, against a primary deficit of 3.5 billion euros in 2011. However, the adjustment to come by end-February will produce a primary deficit of 1.2-1.3 percent of GDP.
State budget expenditure (not including interest payments) came to 55.39 billion euros last year, from 60.35 billion in 2011, recording an 8.2 percent decline. Spending for interest payments amounted to 12.2 billion euros, against a target for 11.7 billion euros, though compared with 2011 there was a 25.23 percent drop.
Revenues lagged the target, however: They came to 51.77 billion euros, against a target of 52.99 billion, posting a 1.22 billion shortfall. They also dropped by 4 percent from the year before.
Expired debts were reduced by 700 million euros in end-December compared with November. The total amount of 8.77 billion euros includes pending tax returns, while the government plans to settle debts of up to 8 billion euros by the end of 2013.