ECONOMY

Budget posts surplus up to July, ministers upbeat for year

Greece’s state budget registered a 2.6-billion-euro primary surplus in the January-July 2013 period and ministers appear optimistic that the result for the year as a whole will also be in the black.

“The results of the execution of the state budget in the first seven months confirm an improving trend in the country’s fiscal situation,” said Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras. The attainment of a yearly primary surplus “will allow a degree of freedom in the exercise of economic policy, contributing to the faster recovery of the economy and a consequent decline in unemployment.” It will also allow Greece, in collaboration with its partners, to seek ways of lightening its public debt, he said.

According to the figures released yesterday, the seven-month primary surplus amounted to 2.6 billion euros, against a target of a deficit of 3.1 billion euros. This was despite a 1.4-billion-euro revenue shortfall but the Finance Ministry takes the view that the picture will improve when taxpayers start paying dues for which the deadlines have been extended. Primary spending and public investment were respectively 1.9 billion and 2.1 billion euros short of the set targets.