Germany posts budget surplus as pressure rises to boost growth
Mon Sep 1, 2014 3:21am EDT
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany posted a budget surplus of 16.1 billion euros in the first half of 2014, highlighting the strength of the country's finances at a time when Berlin faces pressure to loosen the fiscal reins and spend more to boost flagging growth in Europe.
The data from the Federal Statistics Office showed that the federal government posted a surplus of 4.0 billion euros in the first six months of the year, the first time it has not registered a deficit in the period since 1991.
The overall surplus - grouping federal, state and local governments as well as the social security system - amounted to 1.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
That puts Germany on track to post its third straight budget surplus in 2014. Last year its surplus represented 0.3 percent of GDP, while in 2012 it was 0.1 percent.
The figures could increase pressure on Germany to do more to boost growth in Europe. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi suggested in a speech last month that governments could play a bigger role in stimulating growth in Europe.
Germany's partners France and Italy have also been pushing Chancellor Angela Merkel to do more for growth, for example by cutting taxes and bolstering weak public investment spending.
(Reporting by Noah Barkin)