ATHENS – The rebound of Greece’s economy even during a rising COVID-19 pandemic – with no more lockdowns of businesses – is going better than expected and growth in 2022 could surpass 4.5 percent, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
That’s also partially based on a return to bigger tourism numbers after 2021 – before the recent surge of Coronavirus cases – has shown that revenues and visitors could reach as much as 75 percent of the record year 2019.
The pandemic put the brakes on that in 2020 and halfway through 2021 before Greece opened to tourists in a gamble that paid off for the economy, to which Mitsotakis turned his attention even as the pandemic worsened.
Speaking during an interview at the Reuters Next conference, and asked whether authorities stuck to their 4.5 percent growth projection, Mitsotakis said: “It could even be higher than that,” barring any more pandemic ramifications.
“Assuming there is no major hiccups with the pandemic, assuming that the pandemic is gradually going to come to an end during the first six months of 2022, I’m very bullish about the prospects of the Greek economy,” he said.
That came as Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the results of the 12th European Commission report of monitors tracking the economy as part of bailout conditions showed a growth path on track to rise.
“The recovery of the Greek economy is gaining traction, despite the ongoing pandemic,” the report said. Following a strong first half of the year and the better-than-expected tourist season, the Commission’s fall forecast expects growth in 2021 to reach 7.1 percent, on a level with that before the pandemic.
“While still very intense, the impact of the pandemic is expected to gradually diminish with the ongoing vaccination campaign. The accommodative fiscal and monetary policy, coupled with the expected strong boost from the implementation of Greece’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, is set to sustain the momentum going forward. The labor market remains resilient, thanks also to the government support schemes which have continued to protect jobs in vulnerable sectors,” the report said.