ATHENS , Greece, April 23 (UPI) -- Austerity measures by Greece paid off with a budget surplus, drawing praise from the European Union. The EU said Greece’s finances, after years of debt and economic stagnation, were ahead of targets agreed to with lenders. The EU executive arm called it a “reflection of the remarkable progress that Greece has made in repairing its public finances since 2010.
The country has a current budget surplus of 1.5 billion euros ($2.07 billion), or 0.8 percent of national output. With the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the European Union provided a bailout package of over 200 billion euros ($276.29 billion). Greek ministers said years of sacrifice since accepting the bailout have paid off. The austerity measures led to complaints and sporadic acts of violence by Greek citizens.
“After these years that were very tough on households and businesses, the country and the economy are in a definitely better position,” said Christos Staikouras, deputy finance minister. The surplus means Greek government revenue now exceeds expenditure, but it was reached by skipping interest payments on existing loans to the government, the cost of recapitalizing the banks and other one-time-only measured.
It also means Greece can begin debt relief talks with its creditors.