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Greek PM predicts end to recession in 2014

Antonis Samaras says nation to exit from six-year recession at end of next year and promises to ease austerity measures.

Last Modified: 07 Sep 2013 23:22
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Samaras said that Greece's economy by 2020 will reach pre-crisis levels of prosperity [AFP]

The Greek Prime Minister has said he was confident his country would return to growth in 2014 after a six-year recession, and pledged to push for an easing of austerity measures.

Antonis Samaras said on Saturday that most of the efforts to get the country out of the crisis have been completed and that revenue will exceed spending in 2013, excluding debt repayment.

"Greece is turning the page on six years of recession and the economy is becoming competitive," said the conservative Prime Minister, who has headed a coalition government with the socialist party since June last year.

"Last year the international media were all talking about the 'Grexit' (from the eurozone), but now that has been replaced by the 'Grecovery'."

The conservative Prime Minister, who came to power amid economic turmoil, said that the Greece's economy by 2020 will reach pre-crisis, and probably higher, levels of prosperity.

Samaras said his optimism was fueled by data that showed the economy shrank less than expected in the first half of 2013 and by what he termed a "record" rise in the number of tourists, which could add "more than 11 billion euros ($14.43bn) directly, and 30 billion euros ($39.35bn) indirectly, into the economy.

His comments, in a speech at a trade fair in the northern city of Thessaloniki where about 17,000 people protested against the government's austerity policies, came amid signs that the extremely deep recession in Greece is easing.

Structural reforms

Revised data for gross domestic product in the second quarter of the year showed this week that the Greek economy shrank by 3.8 percent on a 12-month comparison.

This was far better than the initial estimate, which showed the economy shrinking by 4.6 percent.

The government has forecast the economy will shrink by 4.3 percent this year before returning to growth in 2014.

During the first seven months of 2013, the surplus reached 1.1bn euros ($1.45bn), he said, adding this would enable the country to negotiate with its creditors, the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Greece has received massive rescue funding, tied to tough conditions, from the EU and the IMF to help it overcome a debt crisis which threatened the eurozone.

However, the resulting structural reforms, including an overhaul of its public sector and its tax system, have proved unpopular.

Samaras promised no further austerity measures would be introduced, saying the economy "cannot take" them anymore.

"Debt levels will be manageable, Greece has respected its commitments... now, the creditors must also respect what was agreed," he added.

The EU and the IMF recently praised the Greek government's progress in turning the economy around, but bemoaned delays to a programme of privatisation and reform, and the fact that the country will likely need further aid in 2014 and 2015 amounting to about 10 billion euros.

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