Creditors ask for details on data

Maintaining this year’s target for a primary surplus of 3 percent of gross domestic product will bring the 2015 fiscal gap to 3.3 billion euros, or 1.2 percent of GDP, according to Finance Ministry calculations that sources said the government has submitted to the technical experts of the country’s creditors.

Monday’s talks between the technical teams of Athens and its creditors focused on the estimates for the 2015 fiscal figures. The latter are based on the assumption that the 2015 GDP will grow to 181 billion euros, against 179 billion in 2014 – i.e. a 1.1 percent increase – so it is on this basis that Greek authorities expect a 1.2 percent fiscal gap. This is provided that the budget for 2015 remains as is.

If the target is reset to 1.5 percent of GDP then the primary surplus this year could reach 1.2 percent, according to the calculations, and the need for new measures would be reduced to no more than 550 million euros. However, sources say that the creditors’ representatives have asked for additional data and clarification as to how the Greek authorities have reached these figures.

In the first couple of months of the year the primary surplus reached 503 million euros, against 1.68 billion euros in the same period last year, the Bank of Greece reported on Monday.

In the year to end-February there was a deficit of 684 million euros against a surplus of 139 million a year earlier, it added. Budget revenues amounted to 6.73 billion euros, from 7.95 billion last year.

Meanwhile the Finance Ministry announced on Monday that the 2014 primary surplus has been revised to just 0.3 percent, against a target for 1.5 percent of GDP.

Earlier, former Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras had stated that the major reduction in the 2014 primary surplus was due to the more than 3-billion-euro shortfall in revenues including more than 1 billion euros from the income tax that was due by end-February 2015.

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