Greece says Q1 budget deficit falls to less than half the target, at 2.45 billion euros

ATHENS, Greece – Greece says its painful austerity program is making progress, with the country’s first-quarter budget deficit falling to less than half the sum initially forecast.

Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras says government overspending in January-April 2013 reached 2.45 billion euros ($3.22 billion), against a targeted 5.74 billion euros ($7.54 billion).

Preliminary data presented Friday set the primary deficit — which excludes the cost of servicing Greece’s massive debt — at 330 million euros for the quarter, less than a tenth of the anticipated 3.61 billion euros.

For the first time this year, tax collection was on target in April, while quarterly net revenues were 5.1 per cent above target.

Greece is locked in a harsh austerity program, demanded in exchange for the international rescue loans that have kept it afloat since 2010.