October 7, 2019 / 9:32 AM / 12 days ago

Slovenia finance minister says public debt will fall below 60% of GDP in 2021

LJUBLJANA, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Slovenia’s public debt will fall to 58.6% of gross domestic product in 2021 from 70.4% in 2018, dropping below the EU’s target threshold of 60% for the first time since 2012, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj said on Monday.

Slovenia’s debt soared to above 60% of GDP during the country’s 2013 banking crisis, and bringing it back down below that line would free it from having Brussels impose any steps on it to forcibly reduce its debt.

“With this (debt reduction) Slovenia will be among those rare European countries which are rapidly cutting public debt,” Bertoncelj said in parliament.

Bertoncelj, who was presenting the government’s 2020 and 2021 budget plans to parliament, also said the budget would run a surplus of about 1% of GDP in both those years, up from a surplus of some 0.8% this year.

He said tax revenue is expected to increase by 5.5% in 2020 and 5.4% in 2021 as GDP growth is expected to pick up in 2020 to 3% versus 2.8% seen this year. The government sees economic growth of 2.7% in 2021.

Parliament is expected to vote on the budget plans next month. Support for the plans remains uncertain since the centre-left government holds only 43 out of 90 parliamentary seats. (Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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