September 5, 2019 / 8:39 AM / 15 days ago

Greece wants lenders to lower its 2021 fiscal target to around 2%

ATHENS, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Greece will comply with a 3.5% of gross domestic product primary budget surplus target agreed with its euro zone partners this year and next but will seek to lower the fiscal goal to near 2% in 2021, its government spokesman said on Thursday.

The country, which has been emerging from a huge, decade-long debt crisis, has agreed to achieve a surplus excluding debt servicing costs of 3.5% of gross domestic product until 2022 to help pay down loans by its euro zone partners. So far, it has been outperforming the annual targets.

Athens hopes to convince its international creditors to lower the target beyond 2020 after gaining credibility by implementing reforms, its newly elected conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said. That would allow him to fulfil promises of tax relief and a possible spending boost.

Government Spokesman Stelios Petsas told Skai radio on Thursday that Athens hopes to convince its lenders to lower the target after gaining their trust by implementing reforms.

Mitsotakis has already raised the issue in meetings with foreign leaders.

The European Central Bank and other euro zone central banks will realise profits on their holdings of Greek government bonds (ANFA, SMPs) and are expected to hand them over to Greece.

After meeting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Hague this week, Mitsotakis told reporters Greece hopes those proceeds could count towards the surplus target, helping Greece meet it.

“We will discuss the SMPs and ANFAs issue with the European Commission,” Mitsotakis told reporters.

Representatives of the lenders assessing the country’s fiscal performance after its latest international bailout expired in August last year are expected to discuss the targets during a visit to Athens later this month. (Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou Editing by Peter Graff)

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