ATHENS — The government is examining the gradual opening of the economy as of March 22, starting with the retail trade sector, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said on Monday in an interview with 'Proto Thema' radio station.
"Our basic scenario is that from next week the economy will start operating normally. However, we have alternative scenarios for gauging the cash reserves for the support we need to provide. We are here to support society as needed. But the longer the situation lasts, the more the capacity to cover existing losses to the greatest possible degree declines."
He stated that the shutdown of retail trade costs the economy 200-250 million euros a week. "The two weeks that went by in lockdown cost 1.2 billion euros in spending and lower tax revenues, of which 520 million euros were in retail. The total cost for a month is estimated at 3 billion euros and about 750 million are specifically from retail," he said.
According to the minister, "if the market opens in March, then we will be closer to the budget targets. Consider that the primary result will be 4.0 billion higher due to the new support measures," while he noted that this was not the time to revise the budget. "We do not have sufficient data for 2021 and we do not yet know how the economy will operate in the second half of March," he added, referring to the course of GDP this year.
"We have a positive 'carry over' but also a worse development in relation to the budget estimate. So, in 2021, we have a conflicting picture for 2021. Everything must be taken into account," he stressed. According to Staikouras, while the economy did manage to hold its own in 2020, "no one is celebrating", though Greece had show resilience given the dependence on tourism and in relation to what could have happened.
Finally, regarding the support measures, he noted that "in 2020 we granted 20 billion euros and another 11.6 billion euros in 2021", while he added that within the first half of this year, the disbursement of resources from the Recovery Fund will begin.