| BRUSSELS, March 24
BRUSSELS, March 24 Euro zone lenders estimate
Greece had a primary surplus between 2 and 3 percent of its
gross domestic product last year, much higher than the target
set under its bailout programme and more than previously
forecast, an EU official told Reuters on Friday.
The size of Greece's primary surplus - the budget balance
before debt-servicing costs - is a source of contention between
euro zone governments and the International Monetary Fund, which
believes the surplus in 2016 was only 0.9 percent.
Better-than-expected figures could smooth bailout talks,
which have been stalling for months on Greek pension and labour
market reforms required by creditors in exchange for the
disbursement of new loans to pay debt due in July.
Under Greece's 86 billion euro ($92.9 billion) bailout
programme, the third since 2010, Athens was supposed to reach a
primary surplus of 0.5 percent of GDP last year.
The EU official said the Greek authorities estimate now that
last year's primary surplus will be "around 3.5 percent of GDP",
although the final figures will be known only in April. This
would be already in line with Greece's target for 2018, when the
"The Commission and the institutions are still assessing the
data and have so far given a more cautious estimate of between 2
percent and 3 percent of GDP," the official said, noting this
would be "a massive overachievement."
In its last economic forecasts released in February, the
European Commission had estimated a primary surplus for 2016 of
The official also said the proceeds from Greek
privatisations, including the port of Thessaloniki and Athens
international airport, were expected to reach 2.4 billion euros
this year and 1.9 billions euros in 2018. The Greek government
had expected revenues of 2.7 billion euros this year.
Pension reforms already enacted by the Greek government are
also expected to generate savings of 1.5 percent of GDP by 2018
and 2.5 percent of GDP by 2025, the official said.
($1 = 0.9263 euros)
(Writing by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)