August 31, 2017 / 4:01 PM / a year ago

Bulgaria expects fiscal surplus of 2.2 pct at end August

SOFIA, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Bulgaria expects a fiscal surplus of 2.2 percent of gross domestic product through August compared with a surplus of 3.7 percent in the same period a year ago, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry also said the Balkan country recorded a surplus of 2.0 percent of GDP at the end of July compared with 3.7 percent for the first seven months of 2016 as social and health spending rose.

Bulgaria is targeting a deficit of 1.4 percent of GDP for this year in a budget that projects higher revenues and spending.

The Black Sea state has pegged its lev currency to the euro, in a regime that prevents the central bank from setting interest rates and leaves fiscal policy as one of the few tools it has to influence the economy.

Bulgaria ended 2016 with a surplus of 1.6 percent after initially targeting a deficit of 2.0 percent. The windfall was mainly caused by delays in administering EU-backed projects, which reduced capital spending, while economic growth exceeded forecasts.

Government revenue in the first seven months of 2017 rose 6.7 percent from the same period in 2016 to 20.5 billion levs ($12.45 billion). Spending rose to 18.5 billion levs from 17.3 billion a year ago.

Fiscal reserves held under the currency regime pegging the lev to the euro stood at 11.7 billion levs at the end of July.

$1 = 1.6469 leva Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Mark Potter

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