Argentine March primary surplus widens 6 pct

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(Reuters) - Argentina posted a primary budget surplus of 1.298 billion pesos ($309 million) in March, up 6 percent from the 1.222 billion peso surplus a year earlier, the government said.

Brisk economic growth running at about 9 percent is boosting tax revenue in Latin America's No. 3 economy, helping the government maintain primary budget surpluses despite strong public spending growth.

That is good news for President Cristina Fernandez six months from a presidential election in which she is widely expected to seek a second term in office.

"This (data) comes as we're intensifying our economic policy, which includes heavy investment in infrastructure and welfare," Economy Minister Amado Boudou told a news conference.

March's figure brought the quarterly primary budget surplus to 4.846 billion pesos, up 40 percent from the the same period a year ago.

The primary budget figure shows government savings before debts are paid. It is an important measurement of fiscal health in Latin America's No. 3 economy, which has been virtually shut out of global credit markets after a massive 2002 default.

After debt repayments, however, March's data showed a fiscal deficit of 1.313 billion pesos. During the whole of the first quarter, the fiscal deficit stood at 348.3 million pesos.

Argentina registered a primary budget surplus of 1.44 billion pesos in February 2011