Greek primary surplus in 2013 was 0.8 pct/GDP-Commission

BRUSSELS, April 23 Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:55pm IST

BRUSSELS, April 23 (Reuters) - Greece had a primary surplus of 0.8 percent of GDP last year, the European Commission said on Wednesday, a result that paves the way for some form of debt relief from euro zone governments that are now the main creditors of Athens.

Greek public debt rose to 175.1 percent of gross domestic product last year, the European Union's statistics office said, up from 157.2 percent in 2012.

To help bring it down, euro zone euro zone finance ministers agreed in November 2012 that they would "consider further measures and assistance, including inter alia lower co-financing in structural funds and/or further interest rate reduction of the Greek Loan Facility, if necessary, for achieving a further credible and sustainable reduction of Greek debt-to-GDP ratio."

The condition was that Greece had to reach an annual primary surplus -- now met -- and fully implement reforms agreed on with international lenders.

The debt relief for Athens is to ensure that by the end of the International Monetary Fund lending programme to Greece in 2016, the country can reach a debt-to-GDP ratio in that year of 175 percent, falling to 124 percent in 2020 and substantially lower than 110 percent in 2022. (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)