It’s a surplus after all, even without passport money

Government finances are back to a surplus with new figures out on Tuesday showing a surplus of €250.8 million in 2018 

General government finances registered a surplus of 2% last year (Photo: DOI)
General government finances registered a surplus of 2% last year (Photo: DOI)

Overall government finances ended with a surplus of €250.8 million last year, figures out today show.

The figures released by the National Statistics Office cover the finances for all the government, including agencies that do not form part of the central government.

These figures include the money in the National Development and Social Fund, which is financed by 70% of the income from the sale of Maltese citizenship, known as the Individual Investor Programme.

According to the NSO, the NDSF registered a surplus of €133.7 million, by far the largest contribution by an external agency. However, the overall numbers show that the country would still have registered a surplus without the IIP funds.

Just last month, a different set of statistics showed how the consolidated fund registered a deficit of €70.2 million when taking into account only the central government.

READ ALSO: Never mind the surplus, here is the deficit: Government €70 million in the red

The latest figures are the ones on which Eurozone benchmarks for deficit and debt are based.

The NSO said Malta registered a surplus of 2% of GDP in 2018, a decrease from 3.4% the previous year.

The Maastricht criteria stipulate that Eurozone countries should aim for a deficit below the 3% mark. Malta has for the past three years registered a surplus.

Expenditure stood at 36.8% of GDP, a percentage point increase, while revenue dropped to 38.8% of GDP from 39.2%.

Public debt was cut by €17.8 million and stood at €5.66 billion. The debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 46%, down from 50.2% in 2017.

The Maastricht criteria set a 60% benchmark for debt, with Malta having gone below that mark as far back as 2015.

Malta among top three in EU

Malta was among the top three EU countries that registered surpluses last year, according to Eurostat.

The European statistics agency said on Tuesday that Luxembourg topped the list with a 2.4% surplus, followed by Bulgaria and Malta with 2% each.

Germany registered a surplus of 1.7%.

Two member states had deficits equal to or higher than 3% of GDP: Romania (-3%) and Cyprus (-4.8%).

At the end of 2018, the lowest ratios of government debt to GDP were recorded in Estonia (8.4%), Luxembourg (21.4%), Bulgaria (22.6%), Czechia (32.7%), Denmark (34.1%) and Lithuania (34.2%).

Fourteen member states had government debt ratios higher than 60% of GDP, with the highest registered in Greece (181.1%), Italy (132.2%), Portugal (121.5%), Cyprus (102.5%), Belgium (102.0%), France (98.4%) and Spain (97.1%).