ATHENS – The great wager is tourism, underlined Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis in an interview with Capital.gr on Wednesday.
The minister said that until now the cost to the economy from the lockdown was over 10-12 billion euros and appeared satisfied with the early indications from the economy's return to normality, noting that the government has managed the available resources in the best possible way without risking a fiscal crisis that would spell the end for Greece.
Regarding the cost of the lockdown, Georgiadis said a precise assessment was difficult but that the government's best estimate was that six billion euros were lost for every month the economy remained shut down. "If you calculate that we had the economy in lockdown for two months, we can certainly say that the cost was over 10-12 billion euros up to now," the minister added.
On restarting the economy, Georgiadis said the government was "generally happy: firstly because the programme for getting the economy back into operation is progressing faster than we initially planned; secondly, because from the inspections we have carried out, 99 pct of business owners and employees are following the measures we have imposed, so there is discipline; and thirdly, the turnover in the first two weeks in retail trade was good and in some sectors much higher than last year.
"So, the initial signs are positive. Of course, I do not want to say that this can be extrapolated to the entire year. I can only wish that the rest of the year will go like this, mostly because the major wager ahead of us is tourism."
The minister also stressed that tourist enterprises will not be left to fend for themselves and called on hoteliers to open their hotels and trust the government.
Georgiadis pointed out that Greece needs a new economic model where there is a more balanced development while commenting that industry faces problems, such as high energy costs, that are difficult and demand extensive, in-depth study to be resolved.
Moreover, he pointed out that no major investment project in Greece has been cancelled due to the coronavirus and that, on the contrary, there are many new requests, while he announced that there will be over 1.5 billion euros worth of new plans for strategic investments in June.
On the site of the former Athens international airport at Elliniko, he predicted that there will be no delay, while noting that both Lamda Development and Mohegan remain totally committed to the project, with the US government having assured the Greek side that it totally supports Mohegan and all the major US companies. "In this phase there is no concern over Mohegan," he said.