The Turkish government ran a TL 13.5 billion ($4.66 billion) budget deficit for the first nine months of 2015, Interim Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said on Friday. The amount was compatible with the government's estimate of a TL 21 billion budget deficit for 2015, according to the minister.
At a press conference in Ankara, Şimşek said the September budget deficit was TL 14.1 billion. The September budget deficit was widened by interest payments and early pension payments before the Qurban Bayram (Feast of Sacrifice) holiday from Sept. 23-28. The reason the year-to-date deficit is lower than the September deficit is because there were budget surpluses in several months this year. There was a budget surplus of TL 3.8 billion in January, TL 2.4 billion in February and TL 1.6 billion in April.
According to the ministry, government budget revenue totaled TL 354.2 billion in the first nine months of 2015 - a 13 percent increase compared to the same period last year where the central government's budget ran a deficit of TL 22.7 billion.
Budget expenditures for the first nine months rose to TL 367.7 billion, marking a 13 percent increase year-on-year, while interest expenses stood at TL 44.8 billion in that period.
Government revenue in September was TL 33.8 billion with an 11.5 percent increase year-on-year, while budget expenditure was TL 48 billion, up 21.2 percent from a year earlier.
Şimşek forecast that budget expenses for the 2015 fiscal year would reach TL 503 billion, while budget income would be TL 478.5 billion, resulting in a budget deficit of TL 24.5 billion - an amount slightly higher than the initial estimate of TL 21 billion.
"We have moved the payment of pensions to an earlier date. There is a TL 6 billion periodicity in September because of that. Nonetheless, the nine-month budget figures are in compliance with budget targets," Şimşek said.
Şimşek also forecast that Turkey would reach its budget deficit goal in 2015. "There is no need to worry. We can easily reach revised targets and others in this year's budget," he said. "The public sector will have a zero deficit at the end of 2015. We will allocate more resources to investments, education and health this year as well. But we will manage to accomplish the budget targets. The budget deficit to gross domestic product [GDP] ratio will be 1.3 percent in 2015."
In 2014, the Finance Ministry estimated budget expenses for the 2015 fiscal year would reach TL 473 billion, while budget income would reach TL 451 billion, resulting in a budget deficit of TL 21 billion.
"We will spend TL 52.1 billion on investments next year and transfer TL 16.9 billion to the agricultural sector. We will increase spending on areas like investments and other areas, and we will cut personal expenses just as much as the deflator [a measure of price inflation] next year," the minister said. "We also aim to increase investments a bit more than we initially envisaged if possible. We have the necessary resources for reforms," Şimşek added.
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