Eurostat: Greek Primary Surplus Revised Down, Debt Up

Greece‘s primary budget surplus last year was lower than initially estimated and its debt higher, revised data by the EU statistics office showed on Monday; the day negotiations for the conclusion of the bailout programme began.

Eurostat said Greece had a 0.5% primary surplus in 2016, after a 5.7% deficit the previous year, but this was lower than the 0.7% initially estimated by the EU agency in April.

Greece‘s debt stood at 180.8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year, more than the previous estimate of 179%, and much higher than the 2015 reading of 176.8%, Eurostat data showed.

The new figures follow Athens’ announcement last week that the country was in recession in 2016, contrary to previous estimates of a return to mild growth.

The higher debt could complicate the country’s plans to bring its third bailout programme since 2010, to a successful end in August 2018. The final negotiations with the country’s lenders for its conclusion, officially kicked off today.

For the bailout programme to be concluded successfully, Athens would have to fully return to market financing with new bond sales after an auction in July, its first since 2014.