By Stelios Orphanides
The government generated in the first four months of the year a fiscal surplus of €425.1m on a cash basis, more than double that of the previous year, which did not prevent the new all-time public debt caused by the €2.4bn bond issue in favour of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank, the statistical service said.
The general government debt jumped to €20.8bn in April, from below €18.5bn, in March, Cystat said in a statement on its website on Friday. Total revenue in the first four months of the year increased by €228m to €2.4m while total public expenditure rose by €67m to almost €2bn.
The difference between public revenue and expenditure increased in the first four months of the year mainly on a €145m increase in direct tax revenue to over €1bn caused mainly by a surge in value added tax (VAT) revenue of 26 per cent to €682.5m, Cystat said. Direct tax revenue rose by €55m to €642m while social security contributions rose by €48m to 413.5m. Non-tax revenue fell by €73m to €236.2m while grants fell by €45m to €53.7m.
Total public spending rose in January to April mainly on a €24m increase in current transfers to €446.9m compared to a year before, accompanied by an increase of €21m in wages and salaries to €557m, Cystat said. Social security payments and pensions increased by €10m and €9m to €484.5 and €186.6m while the amount spent to buy goods and services and on subsidies rose by €7m and €6m to €110.7m and €32.6m respectively. Capital expenditure fell by €14m to €41.5m.
The primary balance which is the difference between total revenue and spending minus interest payments on public debt, rose in January to April to €527m from €292.5m, Cystat said. The government paid in the first four months of the year €97.2m in interest, €1m more compared to the respective period of 2017.