This statement provides information that has become available since the issuance of the staff report on December 22, 2017. The thrust of the staff appraisal remains unchanged.
1. The authorities have revised their preliminary projection for the 2017 fiscal balance from a deficit of 0.6 percent of GDP to a surplus of 0.6 percent. Public debt is now projected to be 78 percent of GDP at end-2017. Preliminary information indicates that this stronger fiscal outcome is a result of both higher-than-expected revenues and enhanced expenditure control. Detailed data are not yet available to delineate the cyclical and structural factors behind this outcome. The authorities have, thus far, not amended their planned fiscal path for the coming years.
2. Recent revisions of real GDP data for 2015 and 2016 shows slightly higher growth, at 2.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. In addition, recent survey data indicate that unemployment has declined to a single digit for the first time since 2008. Inflation in November was 1.4 percent, y-o-y, in line with expectations.