ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced late on Thursday that his government would spend 617 million euros in one-off welfare benefits for low income pensioners after the country exceeded its 2016 primary surplus target.
“Steady to our commitment to support the weak, we decided to immediately distribute most of our outperformance in 2016 revenues to low income pensioners,” Tsipras said in a televised statement.
He said the measure would provide support to 1.6 million pensioners who earn pensions below 850 euros a month.
Tsipras added that a value added tax increase would not be implemented in the Greek islands of the Northern Aegean where thousands of migrants arrived during Europe’s worst migrant crisis in decades.
Greece estimates this year’s primary surplus reached 1.1 percent of economic output, topping a bailout target of 0.5 percent. It projects a 2 percent of GDP primary surplus - excluding debt servicing costs - next year.
Tsipras welcomed the euro zone’s decision on Monday to provide Greece short-term debt relief and said Athens still aimed at concluding a key bailout review as soon as possible but without making concessions on “irrational demands”.
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou