By Sotiris Nikas
In yet another positive message to the country’s lenders, Greece posted a surplus in its current accounts for 2013, amounting to 1.2 billion euros, with economists agreeing that it is a first since records started in 1948.
The balance, announced on Wednesday by the Bank of Greece, reflects the improved competitiveness of the Greek economy, while the fact that it has swung 36 billion euros within just five years points to the major adjustment achieved during that period.
In 2012 Greece had a current account deficit of 4.6 billion euros while in 2011 it came to 20.6 billion. The biggest deficit recorded over the last few years was in 2008, when it had reached 34.7 billion.
The deficit of the current accounts and that of the state budget were the so-called “twin deficits” that led the country into crisis and forced it to ask for bailout loans. Now both of these parameters have turned into surpluses and the Finance Ministry is harboring genuine hopes that the country is emerging from its crisis.
“This signals the start of the reversal of the old and persistent deficit trends of the Greek economy and is a positive omen for the fulfillment of estimates for 2014 as the year of return to sustainable growth,” a ministry statement said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the General State Accounting Office announced that central government debt amounted to 321.4 billion euros or 177.5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of 2013, rising by 15.9 billion euros from 2012, but 400 million euros less than in the first nine months of 2013.
The 2014 budget provided for the debt to total 325.9 billion euros at the end of 2013. The difference of 4.5 billion euros is attributed to the fact that the bailout installment expected for the last quarter of 2013 has not yet been disbursed as planned because the monitoring by the country’s creditors has not yet been completed.
The 2013 debt consisted of 230 billion euros in loans and 91.2 billion euros in bonds and short-term borrowing.