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Greece misses surplus target, finances clobbered by COVID-19

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Greece undershot its surplus targets for the first ten months of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic whittled down state finances.

The country, which saw a quarter of its national output sapped by almost a decade of financial turmoil, had emerged from recession in 2017 only to be slapped down again after the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.

Greece fared well compared to its European Union partners in the first wave of the epidemic, but an aggressive spike from October onwards has stoked infection rates and triggered a second, nationwide lockdown.

At the present rate, Greece expects a contraction in output of ‘little over’ 10 percent this year, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said on Monday, reiterating a projection made by his deputy last week.

Greece’s central government recorded a primary budget gap of 9.05 billion euros in the first ten months of the year, missing a targeted surplus due to an economic slump after the coronavirus outbreak, finance ministry data showed.

The government was projecting a primary budget surplus, which excludes debt-servicing costs, of 3.26 billion euros in the ten-month period, meaning the fiscal result underperformed the target by about 12 billion euros.

The central government surplus excludes the budgets of social security organizations and local administration.

Net tax revenue came in at 38.4 billion euros ($45.5 billion), 4.8 billion euros below target, while spending reached 51.8 billion euros, above a target of 44.2 billion euros.

Greece could expect “a severe deterioration in revenue in the coming period” due to the second nationwide lockdown, Deputy Finance Minister Theodore Skylakakis told journalists.

($= 0.8443 euros) 

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