Greek budget deficit falls to 2.1 pct of GDP in 2013

BRUSSELS, April 23 Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:00am EDT

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BRUSSELS, April 23 (Reuters) - Greece reduced its budget deficit, excluding a one-off expenditure to recapitalise its banks, to 2.1 percent of gross domestic product last year from 6.2 percent in 2012, the European Union's statistics office said on Wednesday.

Including all spending, the Greek deficit rose to 12.7 percent of GDP last year from 8.9 percent in 2012, Eurostat said.

But the 2012 number includes spending of 2.7 percent of GDP in support of the country's financial sector and the 2013 bank recapitalisation bill totalled 10.6 percent of GDP, it said.

Eurostat does not publish or even calculate the primary balance of the Greek budget, a number that will be published by the European Commission later on Wednesday.

The primary balance -- the budget balance before debt servicing -- in 2013 is important, because if Greece managed to produce a surplus and met other reform criteria, it would make it eligible for some form of debt relief from the euro zone.

Such debt relief is most likely to take the form mainly of a further extension of maturities on loans to Greece.

Greek public debt jumped to 175.1 percent of GDP in 2013 from 157.2 percent in 2012, mainly as a result of borrowing from the euro zone. (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Robin Emmott)

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