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Economy

Despite COVID-19 Pandemic, Greece’s Top Banker Sees Economic Growth

ATHENS – While not knowing when – or if – COVID-19 will ever go away or be contained, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras expects 4.2 percent growth in the economy this year and another 4.8 percent in 2022.

He told Antenna TV in an interview there will be a comeback and that the economy shrank 8.2 percent when the pandemic was raging in 2020 and non-essential businesses closed during a lockdown and tourism almost halted.

But Stournaras said that the bank’s growth projections were uncertain as the pandemic still posed serious risks – the Big If – that could alter predictions as it has done before.

He said there will be an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent this decade because of billions of euros in COVID-19 recovery packages from the European Union, some 32 billion euros ($38.03 billion) coming for Greece in loans and grants.

“A 3.5% (growth rate) in the decade is a very realistic target for me, as long as we move fast,” he said, adding that Greece should reform its state sector to be in a better position to absorb those funds, reported the Reuters news agency.

Greece is still technically in a five-month lockdown although it’s been eased so much, with many businesses allowed to reopen with conditions and people defying or ignoring restrictions that it’s already essentially over.

The New Democracy government also hopes an accelerating vaccine program will slow the pandemic and that when it reopens to tourists on May 14, those with vaccine or negative Coronavirus test proof, the rebound will now speed up.

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