ATHENS – Despite a lingering economic crisis and more austerity measures looming, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said the economy’s growth rate will be close to 2 percent this year, above earlier estimates.
Tsipras, preparing for a major speech Sept. 9 at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) where he was expected to take credit for what he said will be a coming recovery, gave the new growth estimate, the news agency Reuters said.
That is usually left to the Finance Ministry or other economic officials but he said that, “The projections that 2017 will end with growth rates close to 2 percent will be confirmed,” and as he said the unemployment rate, now at 21.7 percent, will fall below 20 percent next year without offering any evidence how.
Tsipras, reneging on campaign promises, agreed to whack pensioners with more cuts he vowed to reverse and to tax low-income families in return for the release of 8.5 billion euros ($10.24 billion) from a staggered, delayed third bailout from international creditors of 86 billion euros ($103.6 billion) he said he would never seek nor accept but did both.
That, combined with the sale of a 3 billion euro ($3.61 billion) bond in July – only the second since an economic crisis began in 2010 – was proof, he has said, he is bringing recovery although the bond’s interest rate was more than three times higher than that being paid the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-IMF-ECB-ESM) for 326 billion euros ($392.72 billion) in three rescue packages.
A new state development bank aimed at funding small and medium-sized businesses will be operational in the first quarter of 2018, Tsipras said.
Tsipras’ prediction was in line with Greece’s economy will show a strong recovery in 2017, Greek Economy and Development Minister Dimitri Papadimitriou said in June in New York while visiting the United States.
In August, the Bank of Greece revised its growth figures slightly upward to 1.7 percent despite the ongoing crisis that has devastated much of Greek society.