UPDATES WITH MORE FIGURES AND MINISTER'S COMMENTS
By Muhammed Ali Gurtas
ANKARA (AA) - The Turkish government's budget balance saw a deficit of 20.4 billion Turkish liras ($5.34 billion) in the first quarter of 2018, the Finance Ministry announced on Monday.
According to an official statement, Turkey's budget revenues this January to March totaled 167.4 billion Turkish liras ($43.8 billion), up 15.7 percent compared to the same period of last year.
Over the same period, budget expenses stood at 187.9 billion Turkish liras ($49.2 billion), climbing 17.7 percent annually.
Excluding interest payments, the central government budget balance saw a surplus of nearly $500 million in the first quarter of this year.
The average U.S. dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate in the first quarter was around 3.82, according to Turkey's Central Bank.
Interest payments in the first quarter rose 18.3 percent on a yearly basis to reach 22.3 billion Turkish liras ($5.8 billion), while tax revenues reached 145.8 billion Turkish liras ($38.2 billion) -- a 19.9 percent annual rise.
Finance Minister Naci Agbal said in the statement that tax revenues for this year will exceed the targeted figures in the country's Medium-Term Program (MTP).
"The expenditures in the first quarter of the year were realized within the limits of budget allocations," he said.
"In the coming months, we will continue to decisively implement fiscal discipline to achieve the year-end budget targets in the MTP," he added.
In 2017, Turkey's budget deficit/GDP ratio was around 1.5 percent -- below the MTP target. In the country's MTP, the budget deficit/GDP ratio target is 1.9 percent this year, 1.8 percent next year, and 1.6 percent in 2020.