State rev­enues showed fa­tigue in the first quar­ter of the year

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU

Lack­lus­ter bud­get rev­enues have led to a re­duc­tion of the pri­mary sur­plus in the first quar­ter of the year, ac­cord­ing to pro­vi­sional fig­ures re­leased yes­ter­day by the State Gen­eral Ac­count­ing Of­fice.

The gov­ern­ment is ar­gu­ing that the short­fall in state rev­enues of 1 bil­lion eu­ros be­low the bud­get tar­get is due to a de­lay in March in the col­lec­tion of a one-off pay­ment from Fra­port Greece for the concession of 14 re­gional air­ports, which was even­tu­ally was paid this month. How­ever, even if that 1.234 bil­lion eu­ros had been paid on time, rev­enues would still have just been within tar­get, well be­low last year’s over­per­for­mance.

The main cause is that tax rev­enues are show­ing strong signs of fa­tigue, with tak­ings from sig­nif­i­cant sources such as the monthly tax with­held from salaries and rev­enues, and the 20 per­cent tax with­held from free­lancers’ in­voices, show­ing a drop that comes to 5.88 per­cent for the for­mer and up to 20 per­cent for the lat­ter.

Just as the rev­enues are show­ing a 1-bil­lion-euro short­fall, mean­while, it ap­pears that the ex­ces­sive con­tain­ment of ex­pen­di­ture is com­ing to an end: While quar­terly data show a re­duc­tion by about 1 bil­lion eu­ros from the bud­get tar­get, March fig­ures in par­tic­u­lar re­veal that the Gen­eral Ac­count­ing Of­fice eased its tight spend­ing pol­icy last month by pay­ing out the bud­geted amounts to var­i­ous state en­ti­ties.

In the first quar­ter the pri­mary sur­plus shrank by al­most 800 mil­lion eu­ros from last year to 1.068 bil­lion, still beat­ing the quar­terly tar­get by 75 mil­lion eu­ros. The bud­get deficit came to 1.367 bil­lion eu­ros, more than twice as that in the Q1 of 2016 (595 mil­lion). Net bud­get rev­enues reached 11.415 bil­lion eu­ros in the year to endMarch, down 8.1 per­cent from the tar­get, while spend­ing amounted to 12.78 bil­lion, miss­ing its tar­get by 1.04 bil­lion eu­ros.

The gov­ern­ment ar­gues that the 1-bil­lion-euro state rev­enue short­fall com­pared to the tar­get is due to a de­lay in March in the col­lec­tion of a one-off pay­ment by Fra­port Greece for the concession of 14 air­ports.

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