ISTANBUL: Turkey’s central government’s budget balance saw a deficit of TL 47.4 billion ($12.9 billion) last year, Finance Minister Naci Ağbal announced yesterday. “We revised up our end-year budget deficit forecast for 2017 to 2 percent of the country’s GDP [gross domestic product] in the last Medium Term Program [MTP],” Minister Ağbal said. Fortunately, last year’s budget balance saw a figure [around 1.5 percent of the GDP] below expectations,” Ağbal said. “It is quite satisfactory.”
Last September, the government introduced the country’s new MTP, of which the main objective is to catch sustainable growth performance by maintaining macroeconomic stability, resuming fiscal discipline, struggling inflation, and raising the quality of human sources and the labor force. Despite the central government’s annual budget deficit recording a 58 percent hike in 2017, compared to the TL 29.9 billion deficit of the previous year, the finance minister said the government achieved the end-year deficit goal. The budget deficit/GDP ratio was 1.3 percent in 2016, and it was expected to be TL 61.7 billion in 2017.
As noted in the country’s MTP, the budget deficit/GDP ratio is targeted at 1.9 percent in 2018, 1.8 percent in 2019, and 1.6 percent in 2020. According to Turkey’s Central Bank, the average Turkish lira/dollar exchange was 3.03 in 2016, while it was 3.65 last year.
Ağbal said Turkey’s budget revenue hit TL 630.3 billion last year, marking a 13.7 percent increase year-on-year. “The government’s tax revenues reached TL 536 billion in 2017,” Ağbal said, noting that tax revenues saw nearly a 16.8 percent yearly hike. “Turkey’s central government expenditures without interest payments were TL 621 billion last year,” he added. The government’s annual budget balance saw a noninterest surplus of TL 9.3 billion last year, considering the interest expenditures of TL 56.7 billion. According to the ministry, total expenditures increased by 16 percent on a yearly basis to TL 677.7 billion – including the interest payments. “Consequently, according to these figures, the fiscal discipline was maintained with respect to the composition of the budget balance,” he said. Ağbal also said the Turkish economy is expected to show a growth performance beyond expectations for 2017, adding that the average economic growth in the first three quarters of last year was the best performance among the Organisation for Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.