ATHENS — Greece's economy has grown for a fifth consecutive quarter, keeping the country's recovery on target as eight years of international bailout programs are due to end in August - at the same time Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said debt relief is needed.
The Radical Left SYRIZA leader said he’s brought the recovery without mentioning it’s largely because he reneged on anti-austerity promises and imposed an avalanche of tax hikes on top of pension cuts and selling off state assets he said he’d stop.
The Greek Statistical Authority said the economy grew 2.3 percent in January-March compared to the same period a year earlier. The growth from the previous quarter was 0.8 percent.
The government is negotiating the terms of its bailout exit with Eurozone rescue lenders, and Parliament is expected to approve a final major round of administrative and cost cutting reforms, which triggered a 24-hour general strike, the latest in thousands of demonstrations and protests against austerity, which have all failed.
When three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($381.61 billion) expire on Aug. 20, Greece will be at the mercy of the lending markets after two previous test bond sales of 3 billion euros ($3.51 billion) each sold at interest rates more than three times higher the rescue packages from the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The government, which includes the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) has put out statistics showing bigger-than-expected primary surpluses but those don’t include interest on the debt, the cost of running cities and towns, state enterprises, social security and some military expenditures, nor delays or the withholding of paying vendors and those owed money by the state. The bailouts also have failed to slow the rate of growth of the country’s debt, which on June 5 was 343.835 billion euros ($402.49 billion), nearly 180 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of 171.44 billion euros ($200.69 billion), jumping 602 euros ($704.70) every second.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)