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May 19, 2019
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AIA payment spares blushes for government

The 1.176-billion-euro windfall from the concession contract for Athens International Airport and the curtailing of the Public Investments Program by 154 million euros sent the primary surplus to 1.46 billion euros in the first four months of the year, according to State General Accounting Office figures published on Wednesday.

If it hadn’t been for the cash from the AIA deal (that was not originally planned for the first four months of 2019) and had the investments program been executed as it was supposed to, the primary surplus would have been very small. Furthermore, if we exclude the – for now unused – cushion of 658 million euros set aside to cover any court verdicts for retroactive payments to pensioners and civil servants, the primary surplus swings to a primary deficit of 527 million euros. This practically takes the budget mighty close to the target the budget had set for the January-April period – i.e. a primary deficit of 670 million euros.

These data illustrate that the budget is at the limit of the scope set for the primary surplus target of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product, while the government estimates that there will be a 1.14-billion-euro overrun, or over 0.6 percent of GDP.

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