Finance ministry officials confident Athens can exceed primary budget surplus target for 2017

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 17:17
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By T. Tsiros

The latest – positive – “scenario” being tossed around in Athens this week by the finance ministry’s top officials holds that the target for the this year's primary budget surplus will be surpassed by 500 million euros.

The narrative, as expressed by the same officials, holds that by surpassing the creditor-imposed fiscal target, the beleaguered Tsipras government will be able to again doll out an “extraordinary bonus”, either to millions of pensioners, as it did in December 2016, or to other disadvantaged social groups - considered the leftist-rightist coalition government's grassroots supporters.

Such as performance, if it does indeed materialize, would also leave intact a “cushion” for executing the budget within foreseen targets.

A top government official appeared confident that the primary budget surplus for 2017, as a percentage of GDP, will exceed 2.1 percent, above the 1.75-percent goal set out in the memorandum.

In absolute terms, such a figure translates into roughly 3.7 billion euros, up from approximately 3.171 billion euros calculated with a 1.75 percent figure on the predicted GPD for the year.  

The government is pointing to increased revenue from income taxes, with the first eight months having brought in 2.565 billion euros to state coffers, 469 million euros higher than projected.   

A shortfall in the overall revenue target for the Jan-Aug period, by 1.759 billion euros, doesn’t appear to overly concern the ministry's leadership, however, given that the first installment of the annual property tax was bumped back a month.

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