Public debt keeps growing

Greece posted a budget surplus of 0.1 percent of gross domestic product while it was one of three countries in the eurozone to report public debt exceeding 100 percent of national output in 2001, the European Union’s statistical office Eurostat said yesterday. In common with the majority of EU countries, the sale of UMTS or third-generation telephony spectrum last year resulted in a substantial windfall for Greece. Sales of three 3G licenses netted the country 646 million euros, equivalent to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, and resulted in a budget surplus of 0.1 percent of national output. Excluding this one-off gain, Greece would have posted a 0.4-percent budget deficit, Eurostat’s data showed. On Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio, the statistical agency said the figure of 105.1 percent was a provisional estimate and likely to be revised once the government has provided information on certain transactions. Greece had originally said its public debt would fall to below 100 percent of GDP in 2001 but it was forced to revise its figure upward following Eurostat’s decision to exclude securitization revenues and also due to a methodological change to comply with European accounting standard ESA95 which governs statistics reported under the agency’s excessive deficit procedure.