Greek parliament approves 2020 budget, projects stronger growth

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek lawmakers approved on Wednesday the country’s 2020 budget, which projects stronger growth driven by higher investment, improving domestic demand and tax cuts as the country recovers from a decade-long debt crisis.

The budget forecasts the economy will grow by 2.8% next year from a projected 2.0% this year and generate a primary surplus, which excludes debt servicing costs, of 3.6% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told lawmakers that the budget, “sets a new national goal. Growth for all”.

Greece emerged from international bailouts in August 2018. But it still needs to meet fiscal targets, including a primary budget surplus of 3.5% of GDP up to 2022, which many consider unrealistic.

Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told Reuters on Thursday the economy’s strong performance would help convince official lenders that Greece’s primary budget surplus targets can be reduced.

A majority of 158 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament approved the budget that includes total tax cuts of 1.2 billion euros for corporations and individuals.

Mitsotakis announced on Wednesday an additional 8% cut in real estate tax for 2020.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Alex Richardson