Portugal expects to post budget surpluses from 2020

LISBON, April 15 () - The Portuguese government said on Monday it expected to post budget surpluses from 2020, marking a turnaround from the euro zone debt crisis when the country was bailed out and putting it on course to register its strongest public finances in memory.

The budget balance will swing from a deficit of 0.2 percent of GDP this year to a surplus of 0.3 percent in 2020 and then rise to 0.9 percent in 2021.

The so-called stability programme, which has to be presented to the European Commission as part of EU members' economic plans, saw budget surpluses of 0.7 percent of GDP in 2022 and 2023.

He added that this "could never have been done in the past."

The budget performance is the best on record at least since Portugal returned to democracy in 1974 after decades of dictatorship.

However, the government slightly downgraded its economic growth forecast for this year to 1.9 percent from 2.2 percent previously. Growth is seen at 1.9 percent in 2020, followed by 2.0 percent in 2021 and 2022.

Under the programme, debt-to-GDP is seen falling to 99.6 percent in 2023 from 118.6 percent at the end of this year.

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