ECONOMY

Greek budget predicts higher surplus, maintains growth target

Greece more than doubled its forecast for a budget surplus before interest payments this year and confirmed it will emerge from a six-year recession next year, hinting there is light at the end of the tunnel for its battered economy.

After nearly going bankrupt and crashing out of the eurozone last year, Athens has been buoyed by more positive economic news in recent months as tourism revenues rise and it makes progress in bringing its finances back on track.

It now expects a primary budget surplus of 812 million euros this year thanks to higher than expected tax revenues, compared to a previous forecast of 344 million euros, its revised 2014 budget plan showed.

Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras earlier said Athens would post a surplus of at least 712 million euros.

Posting a primary surplus makes Greece eligible for debt relief from international lenders that have bailed out the country twice since 2010.

Greece maintained its forecast for a primary surplus of 1.6 percent of gross domestic product next year, or about 2.96 billion euros. It also maintained its target of raising 3.56 billion euros from privatizations next year.

Greece’s EU/IMF lenders have yet to sign off on the country’s latest budget plan. The two sides have been at loggerheads over the size of the surplus Greece will post next year. [Reuters]