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Greece’s 2012 Budget Deficit Narrows 31 Percent to Beat Target

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Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Greece’s budget deficit narrowed 31 percent in 2012, slightly more than an initial estimate earlier this month, as the government cut spending and revenue dropped less than anticipated.

The budget gap, excluding spending by state-controlled enterprises, narrowed to 15.7 billion euros ($21 billion) from 22.8 billion euros in 2011, according to final figures released today by the Athens-based Finance Ministry. The figure is smaller than a preliminary estimate of 15.9 billion euros made on Jan. 10, and beat the government’s 16.3 billion-euro target.

In November, Greece’s coalition government approved new austerity measures to obtain aid under two bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The IMF estimates the economy contracted 6 percent last year, the fifth year of recession.

The primary deficit, which excludes debt-service costs, was 3.5 billion euros compared with a goal of 4.6 billion euros. Net revenue fell 3.7 percent to 51.9 billion euros. That compared with a target of 52.4 billion euros and was 200 million euros more than the January estimate.

Spending dropped to 67.6 billion euros from 76.7 billion euros, beating a target of 68.7 billion euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marcus Bensasson in Athens at mbensasson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net