World Bulletin / News Desk
The head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Thursday touted a coming Greek economic recovery amid Europe’s refugee crisis and other pressures.
The remarks by the OECD’s Angel Gurria came in Athens, meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the leaders’ third such meeting since February 2015.
The premier stated that Gurria is in Athens at a very crucial moment. "We have the economic crisis that seems to be coming to an end, and in parallel we have the refugee crisis," he added.
Debt-stricken Greece is being pressured into implementing tough austerity reforms in order to avoid bankruptcy, while at the same time the country is the main entry point into Europe for thousands of refugees fleeing several conflict zones, mainly Syria.
"The refugee crisis is creating significant problems for the Greek economy and growth," said Gurria.
He called the time of his visit to Greece crucial, adding that the OECD is glad to support Athens’ reforms program, while stressing that much work remains and a number of issues are pending in order for the reforms to be implemented. He praised the government on dealing with these issues very effectively, but stressed that there is no margin for complacency.
"It is very important that throughout the year we had a very good cooperation” with the OECD, said Tsipras. "First of all we must leave behind the crisis and secondly try to take advantage of the new conditions, the rise in the economy, the recovery and growth."
An OECD survey said Greece’s economy will grow by 1.9 percent in 2017 after contracting 0.1 percent this year.
The survey also projected that unemployment will fall from 25 percent last year to 24.7 percent this year and 23.8 percent in 2017.
Inflation is expected to return in 2017, with an annual rate of 0.5 percent, from -1.1 percent in 2015.
The country's public debt is projected to fall from 191.6 percent of GDP this year to 187 percent in 2017 from 190 percent of GDP in 2015.
“The tide is turning for Greece," said Gurria in a written statement. "In reality, the Greek economy shows significant signs of resilience, as a 2015 recession was smaller than anticipated. The real GDP contracted by 0.3 percent with the help of another record season for tourism, with tourists arriving in Greece reaching 24 million, among them me and my wife.
“Second, despite the fact that we expect a zero growth rate in 2016 (-0.1 percent), a carry-over from last year, growth is expected to gain dynamism in 2017 with a growth rate of around 2.0 percent.
“Third, the labor market shows signs of gradual improvement, with unemployment rates falling from 2013 highs. Greece still has the highest unemployment rate in the EU (24.6 percent), but it is now lower from May 2012.
“Fourth, a successful recapitalization of banks, a gradual lifting of capital controls and reforms to deal with a high rate of non-performing loans, have also helped to stabilize the banking system and will strengthen the restoring of confidence and credit."
"Completion of the first review of the ESM [European Stability Mechanism] program will further enhance confidence; ignite investments and exports that will support economic recovery."
Last Mod: 11 Mart 2016, 09:02