Brazil central government surplus better, goal still distant

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The primary budget surplus of Brazil’s central government improved in April from the previous month, but the result was not enough to turn around public finances and meet an important fiscal goal this year.

The primary surplus was 10.085 billion reais ($3.18 billion) in April, the treasury said on Thursday. That was up from a surplus of 1.464 billion reais in March, but well below last year’s 16.612 billion reais.

In the first four months of the year, the central government accumulated a primary surplus of 14.795 billion reais, down 54.4 percent from the surplus in the same period last year. The central government’s primary surplus goal is 55.3 billion reais for the year.

A long list of unpaid bills from last year and dwindling tax revenues have continued to weigh on public finances, despite Finance Minister Joaquim Levy’s efforts to rebalance the accounts with hefty spending cuts and tax increases.

Pulling the fiscal balance out of the red and meeting a consolidated primary surplus goal of 66.3 billion reais, or 1.1 percent of gross domestic product, is crucial for President Dilma Rousseff to regain the confidence of investors after years of heavy public spending.

The central government account covers federal ministries, the central bank and social security.

The central bank will release the consolidated primary balance, which includes states and municipalities, on Friday.

(Reporting by Alonso Soto and Luciana Otoni. Writing by Alonso Soto. Editing by Grant McCool and Andre Grenon)

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