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Greece says it beats public deficit target

Greece narrowed its public deficit to 8.1 percent in 2012, a junior finance minister said on Tuesday, marking a rare improvement over targets pledged to its EU-IMF creditors.

"The final execution data for the budget show that the country met its fiscal targets in 2012," alternate finance minister Christos Staikouras said in a statement.

The public deficit closed at 15.7 billion euros or 8.1 percent of output in 2012, compared to 22.8 billion euros or 10.9 percent of output in 2011, the ministry said.

The ministry attributed the result to an excess of 230 million euros in income tax collection and another 107 million euros in above-target property tax takings.

Greece was obliged to bring its 2012 budget deficit to 16.3 billion euros or 8.4 percent of output, Staikouras said.

The main indicator of fiscal progress is the public deficit, which is expected to be announced next month.

The government has only just begun paying back some nine billion euros in unpaid debt to private suppliers, a factor likely to affect the public deficit.

Under a three-party coalition pieced together in June, Greece has tried to get its troubled recovery back on track to regain access to billions of euros in EU-IMF bailout aid.

The Bank of Greece on Monday said it had cleared 318.6 million euros in profit last year, compared to 96.6 million in 2011.

It noted that income from financial operations and the pooling of eurozone monetary income had increased by 98 percent to over 2.8 billion euros.

"Out of this profit, an amount of 305.3 million shall be transferred to the government," the Bank said.

But Athens will still need additional help from its European partners as soon as next year to bring its huge debt under control, a senior IMF official said last week.

"There is a gap according to our preliminary projections for 2015-2016" of up to "9.5 billion (euros)," Poul Thomsen, the IMF's mission chief for Greece, told a conference call.

The EU and IMF have committed a total of 240 billion euros in rescue loans to Greece since 2010, but with its economy entering a sixth year of recession it is still having trouble making budget ends meet.

Source: http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/finance-public-debt.lwn


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