ECONOMY

Draft 2015 budget unveiled, sees surplus of 2 pct in 2014, 2.9 pct next year

Greece will report a primary budget surplus of 2 percent of national output this year, beating the 1.5 percent of GDP target set in its EU/IMF bailout, the government’s draft 2015 budget projected on Monday.

Athens also predicted its economy would exit a six-year recession and grow 0.6 percent this year, in line with previous forecasts.

Athens is hoping it can exit its 240-billion-euro bailout package at the end of the year, over a year ahead of its scheduled end in early 2016, in a bid to rally austerity-weary Greeks and secure the fragile coalition government’s survival.

“The country is entering into a long period of sustainable growth rate and primary budget surpluses, which will boost employment, cut unemployment and improve living standards for all citizens,» Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told reporters.

“This is the result of unprecedented sacrifices by Greek households and businesses. And those sacrifices won’t be wasted.”

Greece plans to issue a seven-year and 10-year bond as well as a Treasury bill of over 26 weeks, according to the government’s draft 2015 budget.

Athens also confirmed it expects to report a budget surplus excluding interest payments of 2.9 percent of GDP next year, just shy of the 3 percent target set under the country’s 240-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout.

The budget also predicted Greece’s economy would grow 2.9 percent next year, in line with the bailout target.

Unemployment is expected to fall to 22.5 percent in 2015 from 24.5 percent this year, while debt is expected to fall to 168 percent of GDP from 175 percent this year, the draft budget said.

[Reuters]