Target for primary is surplus ‘not specific’

Greece believes that the February 20 Eurogroup agreement means that there is no specific primary surplus target for this year, a leading Greek negotiator has told Kathimerini.

Former World Bank economist Elena Panaritis (photo) is part of the Greek team of technical experts negotiating with representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Stability Mechanism in Brussels. She told Kathimerini that the reference to an “appropriate” primary surplus for this year in the agreement with eurozone finance ministers means that there is no specific target at this stage and that it will be determined by the extent of growth this year.

“The word ‘appropriate’ means that there is no longer a specific target,” said Panaritis, who was an MP with PASOK between 2009 and 2012. “The size of the surplus will depend on how gross domestic product evolves. Since we do not know at this point what GDP will be, it is impossible to set a target for the primary surplus.”

Greece’s original target for this year had been a primary surplus of 3 percent of GDP. However, the February 20 agreement leaves some room for flexibility. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has indicated the government will aim for a primary surplus of between 1 and 1.5 percent of GDP this year.

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