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Greece’s 2015 primary surplus beats target, but already discounted

Greek PM Tsipras looks on as he meets with European Commission Vice-President Katainen in his office in the Maximos Mansion in Athens

Greece had a primary surplus last year that beat the target set in its bailout programme, according to the European Commission, but eurozone officials said the number was already discounted in talks between Athens and lenders on reforms and debt relief.

A Commission spokeswoman said Athens recorded a primary surplus – which excludes debt servicing costs – of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product in 2015.

“This is in line with the Commission baseline and indeed substantially better than the programme’s fiscal target of a primary deficit of 0.25 per cent of GDP for 2015,” the spokeswoman added.

The primary balance is a key indicator to assess Greece’s progress in its third international financial rescue.

The Greek government was pinning hopes of avoiding tougher austerity measures sought by the International Monetary Fund and eurozone lenders on achieving a better budget position.

But the Commission announcement on Thursday may change little.

“It is irrelevant, because it had been fully discounted beforehand,” one senior eurozone official said.


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