April 3, 2017 / 5:33 PM / in 4 months

Italy budget deficit widens in March, first-quarter deficit also higher

2 Min Read

ROME (Reuters) - Italy posted a state sector budget deficit of 22.9 billion euros (19.55 billion pounds) in March, an increase of around 2 billion euros (1.71 billion pounds) compared with the same month last year, the Treasury said on Monday.

In the first quarter of the year, the deficit was running at 29.0 billion euros, around 2.65 billion higher than the deficit registered for the same period of 2016, it said in a statement.

The state sector borrowing requirement (SSBR), a measure of the gap between central government spending and income, differs from the broader "general government" accounts, which the European Union Stability and Growth Pact refers to when assessing countries' deficit performances.

Italy aims to marginally trim its general government deficit this year to 2.3 percent of gross domestic product from 2.4 percent last year, remaining inside European Union's 3 percent ceiling.

However, the European Commission says Italy needs faster deficit reduction to bring down its huge public debt of around 133 percent of gross domestic product, the highest in the euro zone after Greece's.

In response to the Commission's requests, Italy has promised to present around 3.4 billion euros of extra deficit cuts for this year before the end of April.

Reporting By Gavin Jones

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