April 20, 2018 / 12:54 PM / 10 months ago

Greek 2017 primary surplus seen beating bailout target - official

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece achieved a primary surplus that exceeded 3.5 percent of gross domestic product last year, outperforming a target outlined under a financial adjustment programme for a third consecutive year, a government official told Reuters on Friday.

Based on guidelines of its bailout programme, Greece was to achieve a surplus of 1.75 percent in 2017 and 3.5 percent this year and next.

The government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said increased social security contributions, income tax and Value Added Tax receipts had led to a cash windfall.

“It will be between 3.5 percent and 4.0 percent of GDP, much higher than the bailout target,” the official said, referring to 2017.

Greek statistics agency ELSTAT will release the general government’s primary balance for 2017 on April 23. The general government primary balance has a different methodology in calculating categories of revenue and spending from that outlined in the bailout programme.

Athens exceeded its bailout target in 2016 when it announced a primary surplus of 4.19 percent versus a target of 0.5 percent. The primary balance does not include interest payments on debt — which in Greece’s case represents about 178 percent of its GDP.

Greece has received 260 billion euros in financial aid from euro zone countries and the IMF since 2010. Its third bailout, brokered as the country teetered on the verge of bankruptcy in 2015, is worth up to 86 billion euros and is scheduled to expire in August.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Catherine Evans

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