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