ECONOMY

GDP to shrink more than 6.5 pct

Following the recent release of revised data by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), the government has been forced to revise upward its 6.5 percent estimate for the 2012 economic contraction seen in the 2013 draft budget.

Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told Parliament on Wednesday recession would likely exceed 6.5 percent and that the general government deficit will amount to 6.6 percent of gross domestic product, or 13.3 billion euros, down from 9 percent in 2011. The primary deficit in the first nine months of the year amounted to 2 billion euros against 6.1 billion in the same period last year. The net deficit of the central administration (including interest payment) amounted to 6.6 billion euros, down from 19.2 billion in 2011.

This is due to the severe reduction in expenditure, according to Bank of Greece data, by about 12.5 billion euros, but this is not representative of the state?s real spending obligations given that it owed some 8 billion euros to third parties at the end of July. Revenues, on the other hand, went down in the year to end-September by 1.3 billion euros compared with the first nine months of 2011.

The good news comes from the exports front, as ELSTAT figures showed on Wednesday that they showed a significant rebound in August that offsets most of the decline in July and leads to a level that is higher than expected for the whole of 2012.

ELSTAT estimates put the total value of exports in August (not including oil products) at just under 1.24 billion euros, against 1.12 billion euros in August 2011, which constitutes an increase of 9.8 percent year-on-year. The rebound is attributed to a great extent to the relative recovery of trust in Greek enterprises after the formation of the coalition government. Exports expanded particularly to third countries (outside the European Union), by 11.7 percent, while stopping their four-month decline regarding EU exports with a 8.8 increase. Imports posted a 7.2 percent yearly decline.

The Panhellenic Exporters Association put the increase in August exports down to the exceptional performance of agricultural products, which rose by 25.2 percent, mostly in the form of fresh fruit, vegetables and olive oil.