Greece, creditors to resume talks in Athens, seek swift deal

Brittany BishopApr 25, 2017

Greece far exceeded its worldwide lenders' budget demands last year, official data showed on Friday, posting its first overall budget surplus in 21 years even when debt repayments are included.

The better than anticipated figures are expected to help Athens in current talks with global creditors on the way forward to overcome the seven- year Greek debt crisis, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

Greece has already agreed to further slash pensions in 2019, and drastically expand the tax base in 2020 by reducing the current tax-free threshold.

The IMF and Greece's eurozone bailout creditors also remain at odds over surplus targets and the extent of debt relief promised to Athens.

"The primary surplus figure is indeed impressive since it is well above the target of 2016", said Argyris Papastathis, a financial commentator at Greece's top selling weekly Protothema newspaper.

Under ESA 2010 guidelines, the general government's primary balance, excluding debt servicing, reached a surplus of 3.9 percent of economic output past year versus a downwardly revised 2.3 percent deficit in 2015.

Greece's EU-IMF creditors are returning to Athens today to seek a deal to break the months- long deadlock on its bailout, the European Commission said.

The final verification of Eurostat data published on Monday morning shows that Greece achieved a primary surplus of 4.2% in 2016 as defined by the third bailout program terms.

To secure the rescue loans, successive governments imposed harsh cutbacks, amid a rapidly shrinking economy that has lost a quarter of its pre-crisis value, and record-high unemployment.

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