ECONOMY

Greek central government surplus falls short of forecast [Update]

Greece’s central government fell far short of its projected budget surplus for 2014, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, citing lower tax revenues and a stalled bailout review that prevented the disbursement of funds.

The central government surplus excludes the budgets of social security organizations and local administrations and is different from the figure monitored by Athens’s EU/IMF lenders, but indicates the country’s progress in repairing its finances.

The surplus came in at 1.92 billion euros ($2.25 billion) for the year, well short of the 4.9 billion euro projection in Greece’s latest budget.

Greece has yet to receive 1.9 billion euros from the European Central Bank due last year on the completion of a bailout review, which was left unfinished before Greece held a presidential vote that triggered early elections.

The ECB was due to return profits made from buying Greek government bonds under the Securities Markets Program.

Tax revenues came in at 46.62 billion euros, falling short of the government’s projection by 3.53 billion euros. The government – which has long struggled to boost tax revenues – did not elaborate on why revenues fell.

Greek media have reported that Greeks have begun to delay tax payments in December after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called an early presidential vote that would ultimately trigger snap elections scheduled for Jan. 25.

EU/IMF lenders monitor a separate figure – the general government primary budget surplus, which Athens estimates will hit 1.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2014.

[Reuters]