The Finance Ministry has presented its 2019 public finance budget. The public finance deficit is planned to drop to 0.1% of GDP in 2019 and to zero in 2020. This year, the deficit should come to 0.6% of GDP, down from initial plans of 0.8%. The public debt should drop to 47.3% of GDP in 2019, under the level of sanctions imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The deficit reduction comes on the back of improved tax collection, courtesy of the solid economic growth.
The budget includes a 10% wage hike in the public sector, and even higher pay rises for nurses and teachers. It also counts on the imposition of a special levy on retailers. Some €400m will fund freebies, such as free school lunches, Christmas pensions, travel vouchers, doubling of the tax bonus for children, and lower VAT on tourism services.