Coeure: High primary surplus for a few years


Greece could maintain a primary surplus equivalent to 3.5 percent of its economic output for a few years after its latest bailout program ends in 2018, European Central Bank executive board member Benoit Coeure told Skai TV late on Tuesday.

The ECB believes that the 3.5 percent target for the budget surplus excluding debt-servicing costs is achievable within the bailout time-frame, Coeure said.

But Athens and its lenders must come up with the right mix of policies and debt relief to keep the primary surplus at such a high level, he added.

“We believe that it is possible… to maintain it for a few years after 2018 and we have to find the right mix between maintaining the primary surplus at such a high level and providing the debt measures,” he said in an interview.

“There is scope for discussion for how long should the primary surplus remain at 3.5 percent,” Coeure said.

“There is still a gap to be bridged, but that’s not the main part of the discussion.”

Asked about tapering of the ECB’s asset-buying program, Coeure said that such a discussion was premature.

He said the ECB’s Governing Council would review its options in December.