Brazil's government debt falls to 78.5% of GDP in March amid new primary surplus

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BRASILIA, May 16 (Reuters) - Brazil's government debt as a share of gross domestic product fell to 78.5% in March, the lowest level in almost two years, with improved revenues in states and municipalities leading to a new primary surplus for the month.

That compares with a gross debt of 79.2% of GDP in February, to the best result since April 2020 (78.4%), when the country was beginning to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Booming revenue, helped by a surge in commodities, has lifted the government's budget, while expenditures have not grown at the same pace due to a constitutional spending cap.

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The public sector surplus excluding interest payments reached 4.3 billion reais ($846.54 million) in March, which led to a surplus equivalent to 1.37% of GDP in the 12 months.

Brazil's states and municipalities posted a 11.9 billion-reais surplus in the month, once again benefiting from larger federal government transfers and higher fuel-related revenues.

State-owned companies recorded a 242 million-reais surplus and the central government posted a 7.8 billion-reais deficit.

The figures, released late due to a continuing strike by central bank employees, also showed a nominal result, which includes the payment of interest on the public debt, of a 26.5 billion-reais deficit in March.

The 12-month nominal deficit dropped to 3.15% in March, from 3.38% in February.

($1 = 5.0795 reais)

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Reporting by Marcela Ayres; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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