By Stelios Orphanides
Cyprus was among the seven best achievers in the European Union last year in producing a fiscal surplus and remained the member state with the fifth highest government debt as a percentage of economic output, the European Commission’s statistical office said.
The island generated last year a fiscal surplus of €82m or 0.5 per cent of the economy, compared to a 1.2 per cent deficit the year before, Eurostat said in a statement on its website on Monday. Public debt stood at €19.4bn or 107.1 per cent last year compared to 107.5 per cent in 2015.
Luxembourg generated last year a fiscal surplus of 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), Malta and Sweden both a 1.1 per cent surplus, followed by Germany, the Czech Republic and Greece with a surplus of 0.8 per cent, 0.7 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively, Eurostat said. Latvia and Bulgaria produced a balanced budget while Spain, France and Romania generated the highest fiscal deficits of 4.5 per cent, 3.4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.
Greece posted last year the highest debt-to-GDP ratio with 180.8 per cent of economic output followed by Italy’s 132 per cent and Portugal’s 130.1 per cent, Eurostat said. Belgium’s debt exceeded last year the 100 per cent mark by 5.7 percentage points. Estonia, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania and Denmark had the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios with 9.4 per cent, 20.8 per cent, 29 per cent, 36.8 per cent, 37.6 per cent and 37.7 per cent respectively.
The combined fiscal deficit in the euro area last year was 1.5 per cent of GDP compared to 2.1 per cent in 2015, while combined government debt remained unchanged at 88.9 per cent of the single currency bloc’s economy, Eurostat said. The EU’s deficit narrowed in 2016 to 1.7 per cent of economic output from 2.4 per cent the year before while public debt fell from 84.5 per cent to 83.2 per cent.