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Greece posts primary budget surplus till November

Christos Staikouras, Greece's deputy Finance Minister

Greece posted a central government budget surplus in the first 11 months of the year, excluding debt servicing costs, putting it on track to seek debt relief from its international creditors.

Reaching a primary surplus this year is the government’s main goal. Based on an agreement by euro zone finance ministers in November last year, Athens can seek further relief on its massive debt load mostly held by its euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund.

The government projects a return to growth next year, with the economy expanding by 0.6 percent after a six-year recession that has shrunk national output by a quarter and left more than one in four Greeks jobless.

The central government had a primary budget surplus of 1.2 billion euros ($1.65 billion) between January and November, without counting bond profits of 1.5 billion euros returned to Athens by the European Central Bank. These bring the surplus was 2.7 billion euros.

Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras expressed confidence Greece would be in the black at the end of the year.

“With these results, the target for a primary budget surplus of 800 million euros this year becomes achievable,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Athens expects to end the year with a primary surplus of 0.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at general government level, based on its 2014 budget. It aims for a surplus of 1.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) next year.

The budget data provide an approximate indication of how the country’s finances are shaping up. At central government level, they are not directly comparable with bailout targets as they exclude budgets of local government and pension funds and include one-off revenue from euro zone central banks.

The budget figures are also on a cash basis, whereas those against which Greece’s performance is judged will be based on an accrual basis, which classifies revenues and expenses under a different methodology.

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