by Stelios Bouras
Wall Street Journal
February 16, 2014
Greece's primary budget surplus for 2013 will be nearly double its target, the country's prime minister said Sunday.
Antonis Samaras said the primary budget surplus, which doesn't take into account interest payments, will exceed €1.5 billion ($2.05 billion), compared with an upwardly revised target of €812 million.
The apparent improvement comes a year ahead of schedule and after years of tax rises and spending cuts demanded by international creditors in exchange for two bailouts worth a combined €240 billion. Athens wasn't expected to achieve a primary surplus until the end of 2014, according to goals set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
"I tell you now that it exceeds €1.5 billion," Mr. Samaras is quoted as saying by weekly newspaper To Vima in comments confirmed by his office. "This means that a very large part of it will be returned this year to the community."
Under the conditions of Greece's lending agreement, the country is able to distribute 70% of any excess primary surplus above its target.