Public debt at 129% as “excessive deficit” (including Banif) reaches 4.4%

The endless preoccupation with percentage points in Portugal has seen statistics authority Eurostat revise public debt revised upwards today, to 129% and confirm that the country’s ‘excessive deficit’ for 2015 – including the controversial Banif resolution -, was at 4.4%.

This throws a spanner in the works of Brussels’ rulings on countries within the excessive deficit procedure (PDE), but as Lusa explains, the government is still trying to persuade finance chiefs that Banif fallout should not be included.

According to prime minister António Costa, former European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn accepted that “operations of this nature should not be qualified as effects of PDE” – and he hopes the European Commission “retains this understanding”.

Says Lusa: “The EC has indicated that it will make a decision in May”, after reviewing all Eurostat’s economic data and “after analysing the national programme of reforms and stability programme, that the Portuguese government must present by the end of April”.

As explained in our story on the likelihood of IVA rising to 25% if Brussels demands further austerity (click here), ministers are meeting later today (Thursday) to approve both these programmes.

As to the increase of public debt to 129% of GDP, Lusa explains this is only ‘slightly higher’ than the 28.8% forecast by the Bank of Portugal, bearing in mind the 295 million euros spent ‘resolving’ the Banif debacle.

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