Greek 2016 primary surplus seen around 4% of GDP, above bailout target

Athens talks have stalled amid fears over Grexit

Max Pixel Athens talks have stalled amid fears over Grexit

Greece far exceeded its worldwide lenders' demands for budget savings a year ago, official data showed on Friday, outstripping even 2017's target and presenting a strong case for unlocking more bailout funds.

Under EU-IMF standards, the surplus was even larger.

The European Commission said the Eurostat data indicated a budget surplus excluding debt service - known as a primary surplus - of 4.2 per cent of GDP in 2016.

Instead, it is more likely that lenders will issue a general statement of intent for debt restructuring and a promise that the issue will be dealt with in detail at a later date.

Greece and its global creditors struck a tentative agreement at a meeting of euro-area finance ministers in Malta earlier this month, breaking the latest deadlock over the country's rescue and paving the way for about 7 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in aid for Athens.

"Based on the figures released today by ELSTAT, our estimate is that the 2016 primary budget surplus, based on the bailout programme, is about four per cent, or slightly higher", the government official said.

Achieving high primary budget surpluses is key to the third bailout signed by Greece in mid-2015.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is in Washington attending an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, and will hold at meetings with bailout lenders to try and end the impasse and reach an agreement in the next month.

Analysts attributed the outperformance to the implementation of bailout measures and increased efforts to improve the state's revenue collection capacity.

So-called bailout monitors had left Athens without a deal in March. Greece surpassed 2017's target and the data presents a solid case for unlocking further bailout funds.

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