ATHENS – After seven years of a deep recession, Greece recorded a 1.8-billion euro surplus at the government general level for the first half of the year, but did it mainly by not paying its bills.
The astounding rebound from a 1.85-billion euro deficit from a year ago – a 3.65-billion euro turnaround – was registered because the government didn’t pay overdue tax refunds, suppliers, vendors, creditors and while social insurance funds have seen their surplus fall a billion euros.
The data was released by Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and also showed payments owed by the country’s health insurer EOPYY, jumped 500 million euros from a year ago and is now past the 2-billion euro mark. Hospitals’ overdue payments are 790 million euros.
Overdue government payments rose to 5.2 billion euros at the end of June (including pending tax rebates of 666 million) from 4.9 billion at the start of the year.
Greece is using the positive data to get release of a one billion euro installment from international lenders that is set to be disbursed next week, after Parliament passed a multi-bill approving far fewer than the 600 reforms insisted upon by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
Meanwhile, as the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras boasts of a coming recovery, it hasn’t trickled down to the unemployed, with the jobless rate still at 27.2 percent and 820,156 registered out of work, although the number is far high because Greece only counts those who receive benefits, which last only a year.
Only 20 percent of people who lost their jobs have been able to find another one. The austerity measures imposed by the government on Troika orders created soaring joblessness and record poverty, which didn’t affect the rich, politicians or the privileged, including tax cheats.