September 13, 2017 / 11:46 AM / 10 months ago

Greece to beat budget target, plans more bonds: finance ministry official

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece expects a larger-than-targeted primary budget surplus this year and plans to tap bond markets again within seven months, a senior finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

A man walks among seaside as a greek flag flutters at Faliro suburb near Athens, Greece, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Athens is keen to quickly conclude a third bailout review with its international creditors, helping smooth its return to market financing, as its rescue program ends next August.

Greece returned to bond markets for the first time in three years in July. It sold 3 billion euros of new five-year bonds alongside a tender to buy back outstanding 5-year paper issued in 2014.

“Within the next six to seven months there will be efforts to tap bond markets,” the ministry official told reporters, declining to be named.

“It will involve (raising) new money and a bit of debt management. This why we want to conclude the third bailout review fast, by January.”

Without specifying a figure, the official said the country is this year set to exceed a targeted 1.75-percent-of-GDP primary budget surplus, which excludes debt servicing costs.

Last week Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the government was determined to beat its fiscal targets and speed up the conclusion of the third review, promising a “dividend” to the vulnerable.

The official said the planned handout would not be distributed to low-income pensioners, as last year when Tsipras unexpectedly announced a one-off Christmas bonus to retirees, angering the country’s lenders.

“The (fiscal outperformance) will not go to pensioners, it will go toward other social spending, to pay down state arrears and growth projects.”

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, writing by George Georgiopoulos; editing by John Stonestreet

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