Greek government sends revised 2020 draft budget plan to the EU Commission

The Greek government and the European Commission are very close to an agreement on the 2020 draft budget plan, finance ministry sources said on Tuesday. The ministry sent the 2020 draft budget plan to the European Commission on Tuesday and expects an immediate answer from the Commission. The ministry sources said no further communication with the institutions is expected on the issue, reflecting optimism over achieving an agreement on the budget plan.

Finance ministry officials said the draft plan sent to the Commission included changes in the quantification of certain provisions included in the initial plan, but noted that these changes did not refer to the main fiscal goals, nor the provision for a 2.8 pct growth rate in 2020. The changes refer to estimates over proceeds from a 120-tranche debt repayment scheme, revenue from e-transactions, revising spending and a new estimate over proceeds from gaming licenses.

The next step to finalise the draft plan figures is the tabling of the 2020 budget in Parliament in November. By mid-November, the finance ministry will have a clear picture of the size of the 2019 primary surplus before taking decisions on the distribution of any excess primary surplus to the financially weaker groups in the population. The government also plans to use money from the excess primary suplus to cover state obligations towards the Public Power Corporation (PPC) and other utilities.

The finance ministry is focusing on a budget provision to lower corporate income tax in 2019, a measure worth 134 million euros, the distribution of a heating subsidy and the retroactive payment of pensions awarded by the Council of State. Finance ministry officials said they need to first see the official document setting out the decision of the Council of State in order to have a clear picture on the matter.