ECONOMY

Pandemic costs budget €21.7 billion

pandemic-costs-budget-e21-7-billion

The pandemic opened a hole of 21.7 billion euros in Greece’s 2020 public finances, as the original plans for a primary budget surplus of €3.5 billion were upended and replaced by a primary deficit of €18.2 billion, Finance Ministry figures released on Monday show.

Tax revenues were €9 billion below target, at €43.2 billion instead of the €52.2 billion projected in the 2020 budget, while expenditure exceeded the planned €57.2 billion by €13.5 billion to reach €70.8 billion, including the €5.5 billion of the cheap state loans program and €2.7 billion in special purpose compensations.

Even so, ministry officials are quite satisfied, as the picture is slightly better than the estimates incorporated in the 2021 budget drafted in November: That had provided for a primary deficit of €19.6 billion – i.e. €1.4 billion higher than the eventual figure.

This improved result was attained thanks to the collection of eurozone central banks’ earnings from Greek bond holdings (ANFAs), and to the relatively positive course of revenues, as tax takings exceeded the revised target by €473 million, although the December tax revenues came €43 million below their target.