ECONOMY

Budget deficit beats target set for last year

Greece’s deficit amounted to 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product or 19.3 billion euros, according to data released on Monday by Eurostat. The country’s public debt dropped to 159.6 percent of GDP from 170.3 percent a year earlier, going to 303.9 billion euros from 355.1 billion in 2011, the figures from Brussels suggested.

This high level of the budget deficit is attributed to temporary expenditure by the state to support the local banking system. With this expense excluded, the deficit shrinks to just 6 percent of GDP, data showed. Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras stressed on Monday that Eurostat considered this expense as having a “one-off impact.”

The target for last year had been at 6.6 percent. The net result of 6 percent is 3.8 percent of GDP lower than in 2011, when the deficit had amounted to 9.8 percent. The primary deficit went down to 1 percent of GDP in 2012, against 2.7 percent in 2011.

For its part the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) emphasized that this is the sixth consecutive time since November 2010 that the figures it has forwarded to Brussels have not been disputed by Eurostat.