ATHENS – Despite the crushing effects of a more than year-long COVID-19 pandemic that has seen non-essential businesses closed half that time, Greece won't need another bailout from Europe or international lenders, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said.
Speaking on ANT1 TV he said that while the economy has shrunk some 9 percent and won't see substantial growth for some time that the country is regularly borowing from capital markets and can sustain itself.
He said another 2.5 billion euros ($2.93 billion) had been obtained from the European Union's SURE (Support to Mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency) program and other revenue sources were being sought.
“There will be no need for a new bailout,” he said, as Greece also is receiving 32 billion euros ($37.56 billion) from an EU COVID-19 subsidy program and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has outlined a plan for recovery.
Greece subsisted on 326 billion euros ($382.68 billion) in three international bailouts from the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) from 2010 to Aug. 20, 2018.
“Our hope is for a gradual reopening of the market and we expect tourism to perform better than last year, while we also expect money flows from the (EU) recovery fund. All this makes us optimistic that there will be a strong recovery followed by strong economic growth,” he said.
The government in 2020 pumped 17.5 billion euros ($20.54 billion) into aid for laid-off workers and their businesses closed during COVID-19 lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus and will be adding more this year.
He said that a seventh round of state loans to enterprises and the self-employed will be paid by the end of April and that there could be an eighth if needed, although there's a conditional opening of most retail businesses.
“We must agree that the measures have been satisfactory in terms of preventing layoffs and business closures, so far. We must see whether some enterprises might find it difficult to maintain their workforce after reopening and that’s why we are examining the continuation of support measures,” he said.
“We must act promptly and methodically to preserve funds to help households and enterprises. We have the funds to support society, but as the crisis deepens we will not be able to compensate for all the losses suffered by citizens,” Staikouras also added.