ATHENS – Despite 5.6 percent growth in 2022 during the waning COVID-19 pandemic, revenues driven by a big tourism year, Greece still had a primary budget deficit of 6.67 billion euros ($7.73 billion) – a better result than expected.
The data came from the Finance Ministry and showed that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ lifting of Coronavirus health restrictions paid off in the books although the pandemic is still bringing thousands of cases weekly, along with hospitalizations, patients on ventilators and deaths.
The government had targeted a primary budget gap – which excludes debt servicing costs, social security, the costs of running cities and towns, some military costs, and state enterprises, – of 8.5 billion euros ($9.21 billion) said Reuters.
It also projects a primary budget deficit of 1.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2022, the economy still a bugaboo for Mitsotakis with high inflation, soaring energy costs and rising supermarket prices.
A primary surplus is seen for 2023 – an election year – three years of deficits caused mainly by the pandemic and the energy crisis that required the government to pump in more than 40 billion euros ($43.33 billion) in subsidies.
Achieving a surplus is a key condition for Greece – which emerged from bailouts in 2018 – to regain investment grade status after more than a decade in the junk category, the news agency report also noted.
Budget revenues came in at 65.75 billion euros ($71.22 billion) in the 12-month period, slightly outperforming the target, the government said, and spending hit 71.27 billion euros ($77.2 billion,) some 1.97 billion euros ($2.13 billion) less than the government shot for, the data showed, according to the report.