ECONOMY

Primary surplus is within reach

Increased tax inspections and the restructuring of the tax collection mechanism have resulted in public revenues beating their target for the first time after nine months, according to the official data presented on Wednesday by Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, as in the January-October 2013 period the total figure was 250 million euros more than anticipated.

A senior Finance Ministry official stated that the course of revenues “constitutes a strong bargaining chip for the country in its talks” with its international creditors, adding that the troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund now acknowledges that the execution of the budget is proving better than forecast.

According to the preliminary data, October was the best month so far this year for the state coffers as 700 million euros more was cashed in than expected. This positive course continued in the first 10 days November and it is now becoming increasingly clear that the full-year primary surplus will exceed the 344 million euros projected by the government and the troika.

According to European statistical standards, the primary surplus recorded after the year’s first 10 months amounts to 2.6 billion euros, or 1.4 percent of gross domestic product. Excluding the revenues from eurozone central banks’ earnings from Greek bonds returned to Athens, the primary surplus which the troika takes into account amounts to a respectable 1.1 billion euros, or 0.6 percent of GDP.

The state budget’s net revenues amounted to 42.9 billion euros in the year to end-October, which is 5.7 percent above the target and 2.8 percent more than last year. Even without the central banks’ earnings, revenues are still 800 million euros above the target.

Primary expenditure was down on the target as well as on the same period in 2012: It totaled 35.8 billion euros, which is 2.6 billion less than last year and 1.5 billion less than planned by the budget.