(Adds dividends data and context)
By Alonso Soto
BRASILIA, May 30 (Reuters) - Brazil had its biggest primary budget surplus for the month of April in three years due to a surge in extraordinary income from dividends and concession premiums, central bank data showed on Friday.
Brazil posted a primary budget surplus of 16.896 billion reais ($7.54 billion) in April, above the median forecast of 15 billion reais in a Reuters poll. It had a primary surplus of 3.58 billion reais in March.
The primary surplus, which represents the public sector’s excess revenue over expenditures before debt payments, is a key indicator of a country’s capacity to repay debt.
The surge in primary savings was mostly due to an increase in the government’s intake from concession premiums and dividends from state-run companies. The central government’s dividend intake rose more than six-fold between January and April, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to Treasury data released on Thursday.
Brazil’s public finances have deteriorated rapidly under the government of President Dilma Rousseff, leading Standard and Poor’s to downgrade the country’s sovereign debt rating closer to junk status in March.
In the first four months of the year, the government has been able to meet about 40 percent of its target for the primary surplus for the year.
The government pledged to save at least 99 billion reais this year in primary surplus, or 1.9 percent of the country’s GDP. Many economists see that target as out of reach unless the government resorts to alternative accounting or receives extraordinary revenues from concessions or tax settlements.
A recent slowdown in tax revenue and limited space to keep collecting extraordinary revenues could drag down the primary surplus in coming months, economists have warned.
$1=2.24 Brazilian reais Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama; and Peter Galloway