ECONOMY

Primary surplus to exceed 1 bln euros

Finance Ministry officials expect the country to show a primary surplus of more than 1 billion euros at the end of this year, which would exceed the most recent forecast for 812 million euros included in the 2014 draft budget tabled in Parliament last Thursday.

The latest data, for the year to end-October, published on Monday by the ministry, show budget revenues were 2.59 billion euros higher than expenditure, or 1.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. When European Central Bank profits from Greek bonds that were returned to Athens are excluded, as the country’s creditors dictate, the primary surplus stands at 1.1 billion euros or 0.6 percent of GDP.

This amount will likely be the final figure of the year’s budget provided no nasty surprises emerge before the end of December. There even are estimates for a primary surplus of 1.85 billion euros, or 1 percent of GDP, should spending on the Public Investments Program continue to remain below budget.

All this is mostly attributed to the intensified checks and restructuring of the tax administration in April, as the sum of tax revenues beat the target for the first 10 months of the year by 229 million euros: Against a target for 35.34 billion euros, tax revenues added up to 35.57 billion at end-October.

In October alone, direct taxes fetched 2.2 billion euros – 765 million or 34.4 percent over the monthly target: Taxpayers submitted 963 million euros in income tax, corporations paid 187 million euros in income tax, property taxes brought in 388 million euros, direct taxes of previous years contributed 201 million euros, and other direct taxes fetched 355 million euros.

The primary surplus in October would have been greater had it not been for the value-added tax on fuel that lagged the target by 23.6 percent, and the special consumption tax on energy commodities that contributed 345 million euros against a target for 385 million.

Expenditure was down 3.45 billion euros from the target set for the first 10 months. State budget spending amounted to 45.9 billion euros, against a target for 49.36 billion.