ATHENS – After projecting growth of at least 2.8 percent this year during a growing recovery from a near decade-long crisis, the devastating effects of the COVID-19 Coronavirus are expected to bring a fall of 1-3 percent in the economy.
Finance Minister Christos Staikouras gave the dire assessment of a blow that came just as the country was beginning to faster pull out of a crisis that saw the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrink 25 percent and bring harsh austerity measures to workers, pensioners and the poor.
He said estimates vary so much because no one really knows how long COVID-19 will rage, the disease making the government – as have other countries – lock down and close most businesses and with the biggest revenue engine, tourism, now essentially off the table.
Still, he told SKAI TV that he expects a recession to be relatively mild without explaining why it wouldn’t be worse if most businesses are closed and people locked down in their homes aren’t going to work and people aren’t spending.
“Greece had been doing exceptionally well until February, obviously now its a completely different Greece from two months ago,” Staikouras said without elaborating on how deep he expected the recession to be.
Before the crisis, Greece had forecast its economy would grow although there hadn’t been a full return to the markets after the Aug. 20, 2018 end of three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($356.61 billion.)
He said once COVID-19 abates that the recovery would be swift. “We all believe that once this is over the recovery will be sharp, it will be V-shaped,” he told the station.