Pri­mary sur­plus gives gov’t lee­way

Rev­enues to ex­ceed spend­ing by 950 mln eu­ros, al­low­ing for the use of 70 pct of that for so­cial poli­cies

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY SOTIRIS NIKAS

The gov­ern­ment pre­sented data yes­ter­day on the 2013 bud­get which showed a pri­mary sur­plus of at least 691 mil­lion eu­ros, a fig­ure that may well rise up to 950 mil­lion when an­tic­i­pated rev­enues are cashed in. This would al­low the gov­ern­ment to have a pack­age of some 700 mil­lion eu­ros to spend on ben­e­fits ahead of the Euro­pean elec­tions in May.

The fi­nal fig­ure, Fi­nance Min­istry of­fi­cials say, will ex­ceed the 812 mil­lion eu­ros the 2014 bud­get had fac­tored in for 2013, and com­pares with a pri­mary deficit of 2.3 bil­lion eu­ros an­tic­i­pated in the 2013 bud­get drafted in Novem­ber 2012.

The fig­ures pre­sented by Al­ter­nate Fi­nance Min­is­ter Chris­tos Staik­ouras showed that net bud­get rev­enues beat the tar­get by 1.5 bil­lion eu­ros, amount­ing to 52.9 bil­lion, largely thanks to the re­turn to Athens of the Eurosys­tem earn­ings from Greek bonds. Ex­pen­di­ture also beat its tar­get by 1.5 bil­lion eu­ros, amount­ing to 52.2 bil­lion against a fore­cast 53.7 bil­lion. That was mostly due to cuts in pri­mary spend­ing of about 600 mil­lion eu­ros as well as to the Pub­lic In­vest­ments Pro­gram, of 200 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment’s pledge to re­turn 70 per­cent of the fi­nal pri­mary sur­plus – now ex­pected at 950 mil­lion eu­ros – to so­ci­ety, just un­der 700 mil­lion eu­ros will be used for the so-called so­cial pol­icy, and the plans for that are al­ready in place. Se­nior min­istry of­fi­cials have strongly em­pha­sized that the prime min­is­ter’s pledge to that ef­fect re­mains valid, with the bulk of the sur­plus go­ing to those who have suf­fered the most as a re­sult of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis. They add that this pol­icy will be im­ple­mented once Euro­stat has con­firmed the fi­nal amount of the pri­mary sur­plus, which is ex­pected on April 23 – i.e. one month ahead of Eu- ro­pean and lo­cal elec­tions.

This will al­low the gov­ern­ment to pro­ceed to cer­tain tar­geted in­ter­ven­tions that just be­fore the end of the bailout pro­gram will sig­nal the coun­try’s grad­ual eman­ci­pa­tion from the tight fi­nan­cial con­trol of the last few years.

Still, the coun­try’s cred­i­tors would rather see that 700 mil­lion be­ing used as a safety cush­ion to se­cure the achieve­ment of the agreed pri­mary sur­pluses of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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