Greece beats a key bailout target but faces hard choices

The government's estimate of the primary budget surplus, under the terms of the bailout, is based on data released by the country's statistics agency ELSTAT on Friday.

This was calculated under European System of Accounts guidelines, which differ from the methodology used by Greece's in bailout deliberations.

Greece far exceeded its worldwide lenders' demands for budget savings past year, official data showed on Friday, outstripping even 2017's target and presenting a strong case for unlocking more bailout funds.

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Greece has posted an overall government surplus of 1.288 billion euros ($A1.8 billion), or 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, the European Union statistical agency Eurostat says.

The 2016 outperformance could lead the fund to revise some of its projections.

'This is significantly above the 0.5 per cent of GDP program target set for 2016 and even above the target of 3.5 per cent set for 2018, ' said Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for the European Commission.

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An ever-tightening time-frame to finally conclude the long-delayed second review of the Greek program emerged from Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos high-profile meetings over the weekend at the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund spring meetings in Washington D.C.

In a statement on Friday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she had a "constructive dialogue" with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos "in preparation for the return of the mission to discuss the two legs of the Greece program: policies and debt relief".

Achieving high primary budget surpluses is key to the third bailout signed by Greece in mid-2015.

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  • Kelly Blake