Central Government Budget Deficit Widens in January

Greece’s central government budget deficit reached 490 million euros (408 million pounds) in January as tax revenues declined and spending increased from a year earlier, but the finance ministry said the data showed Athens on course to reach targets agreed last month with the EU and IMF.

The primary deficit excluding interest payments was 33 million euros, the data published on Friday showed. Last year, Greece reported a surplus of 154 billion euros and a primary surplus of 747 billion euros in January.
The figures are not comparable to budget data used by European Union statistics agency Eurostat

Friday’s data showed state revenues fell to 4.872 billion euros from 5.122 billion in January 2011, due to the expiry of a one-off company levy and a slide in sales tax due to sharply reduced consumer spending. The declines were slightly balanced by improved collection of tax arrears.

Spending rose to 5.362 billion euros from 4.967 billion a year earlier, lifted by higher social security spending and transfers to hospitals, the ministry said.

The figures do not include data from outside the central government and are therefore not comparable to the general government balance used to assess Greece’s economic reform programme under its bailout deals with the EU and International Monetary Fund.
(source: Eurostat, Reuters)