World Bulletin / News Desk
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must decide by year-end if it will participate in the funding of Greece’s current bailout.
"We can live with or without the IMF presence," he told a press briefing at Thessaloniki International Fair, a day after his annual policy speech.
Tsipras added that Greece will be financially independent by 2018 and without supervision from its creditors.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the state-of-the-economy address at the inauguration of the fair on Saturday, the prime minister said "ahead of us we have a new Greece, a new productive model, a model of social state, meritocracy, stability and trust."
The Greek economy "is eager" for investments, he said, adding that a French businessman accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron on his 2-day visit to Greece earlier this week told him that Grexit – the possibility of leaving the eurozone – has become Grinvestment.
He noted that the increasing investment interest for Greece was not accidental.
"The country's positive outlook is now visible and acknowledged both by our partners and by international markets. We exceeded the program's targets for primary surpluses.
"The country is upgraded and is becoming a strategic partner of the most significant economic powers on the planet," he added.
Tsipras also said Greece is increasing its status and becoming a strategic partner of the most powerful countries, mentioning that in 2016, foreign direct investments hit a 10-year high and that the government expects further improvement in 2017.
"The positive economic growth rates are an excellent omen," he continued.
Government authorities are evaluating around 800 new investment plans worth 2.0 billion euros, he stated. "Greece, for the third successive year, is the top country in absorbing EU funds."
Regarding unemployment he added that 213,000 new jobs were created from January 2015 to December 2016 and a total of 263,000 new jobs by July this year.
"A record number for the last 16 years," he said, adding the unemployment among young people fell by 10 percentage points compared with 2014.
Athens, which has signed three bailouts deals since 2010 amounting to 260 billion euros, has also promised its international lenders that Greece will move forward with more reforms by shrinking and modernizing its administration in order to cut costs and make it more efficient.
Despite promises on reforms and the painful austerity measures which include pension cuts, tax increases and labor reforms, the Greek government has still not managed to overhaul the public sector; one of its biggest challenges. Earlier labor unions including PAME- communist party affiliated union staged demonstrations in a protest to the government’s austerity policies.
Before Tsipras took the stage, a group of far-leftist protesters tried to break a police barrier guarding the venue but were pushed back, forcing police to use tear gas.
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