February 28, 2020 / 3:23 PM / a month ago

Portugal may have posted fiscal surplus in 2019 - finance minister

LISBON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Portugal may have posted its first budget surplus in decades last year, 12 months earlier than forecast, after a strong fourth quarter for the economy, Finance Minister Mario Centeno said on Friday.

The Socialist government initially forecast a 0.2% deficit for 2019, recently trimmed to a 0.1% deficit, and had set itself the target of generating a surplus in 2020 - its first since the country’s return to democracy in 1974.

Asked in an interview with Reuters if the fact the economy grew 2.2% last year could mean that 2019 marked the first fiscal surplus, Centeno said: “It is possible.”

“In the fourth quarter the economy performed very, very well. There was a rebound in exports, investment also kept the momentum very high, the labour market keeps delivering great results,” he said.

“All these numbers add to a scenario that makes it (a surplus) possible.”

Official growth data are due to be published next month.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Sergio Goncalves; editing by John Stonestreet

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