Finance minister ups the ante: “The deficit will not surpass 2.1%”

  • ECO News
  • 16 February 2017

The Portuguese minister of Finance Mário Centeno assures extraordinary measures did not influence the compliance with that fiscal goal.

Minister of Finance, Mário Centeno: Finance and Budget Committee. Paula Nunes / ECO February 15, 2017

This Wednesday, the Portuguese minister of Finance Mário Centeno, during the Finance and Budget Committee in Parliament, told the Portuguese deputies that “the 2016 deficit will be the lowest of our democracy, and it will not surpass the 2.1% threshold” – contrary to the quick estimate made by the European Commission of 2.3% of GDP.

If confirmed, this percentage will be lower than both the target set by the Government — of 2.4% — and the target set last February, of 2.2%.

This percentage allows Mário Centeno to advocate that the goal was not achieved at the expense of extraordinary measures: “The measures said to be ‘extraordinary’ will merely improve the fiscal goal set by the Government”, Centeno stated, adding that the fiscal consolidation is “sound and perennial”.

The data on the deficit will only be determined in April by the Eurostat and INE; it is one of the determinant factors in deciding if Portugal will leave the Excessive Deficit Procedure in 2017, along with a continuous path in the reduction of the fiscal deficit. Yet, the Finance minister assured: “Portugal will, once and for all, leave the Excessive Deficit Procedure”.

Aside from the fiscal results, Mário Centeno emphasized other economic indicators such as the 1.9% economic growth in the last quarter of 2016, the good performance of exports, the improvement of investment expectations and consumers’ trust, as well as a decrease in the unemployment rate.