ATHENS – Greece's government on Monday presented what it calls the last of the bailout-era state budgets, predicting economic growth of 2.4 percent and a significant budget surplus in 2018.
In the draft 2018 budget, the economy is expected to expand 1.8 percent this year, up from no growth last year.
The 2018 primary surplus — which excludes the cost of financing debt — is forecast at 3.6 percent. The government has committed to high surpluses for years to come, to secure fiscal sustainability and help pay off crippling debts.
Greece has endured nearly eight years of harsh austerity, required to right its public finances and receive rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund. The current program runs out in August 2018, and the government said that will mark the end of international oversight of the country's finances. Deputy Finance Minister George Houliarakis said 2018 budget targets are in line with commitments, and are expected to exceed them in 2017.
The country's public debt is set to increase from 318.7 billion euros ($376 billion) in 2017 to 327.9 billion in 2018. The anticipated economic growth means that as a percentage of GDP debt will fall from 176.8 percent in 2017 to 175.6 percent in 2018. Unemployment, the highest in the 19-member eurozone, is forecast to fall from 22 percent in 2017 to 20.8 percent in 2018.