ECONOMY

Stournaras 100 pct certain of rebound

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told BBC TV on Tuesday that he is 100 percent certain Greece will return to growth in late 2013 and 2014, while branding feasible as well as welcome a new reduction in the level of Greek state debt by the country’s European partners.

Stournaras stated that the government has managed to change the course of the Greek economy and that there is much more optimism now. He added that gross domestic product will stage a rebound toward the last quarter of the year, with growth returning to the economy in 2014 even if GDP contracts by 4.5 percent this year, as expected.

“I feel confident, 100 percent certain that this will be the last year of recession in Greece,” he said.

Regarding the possibility of a new debt reduction, the minister noted that “a decline in the debt level would be welcome, as long as it does not cause damage in other countries, therefore it will have to take place in a way that would minimize losses for our partners,” he said, stressing that “this is feasible.”

Stournaras also argued that the possibility of the country exiting the eurozone is almost nonexistent now. “We have managed to change the course of the economy, so I am very optimistic we have averted the risk of a Grexit.”

Asked about the possibility of further cuts, the minister responded that if this year’s reforms program is implemented, there will be no new austerity packages or cuts to salaries, benefits and pensions. “We should have placed greater emphasis on structural reforms and privatizations from the outset. But we cannot turn back,” he said.

He further noted that he was convinced there was no other choice for the country: “Without the money of the bailout package, Greece would have been out of the eurozone now and that would have brought a disaster,” Stournaras argued.

The governor of the Bank of Greece, Giorgos Provopoulos, was also upbeat, telling Financial Times TV on Tuesday that “the worst is over and we can now be more optimistic.” He added that the government has increased the pace for the implementation of all requirements by its creditors and that Greek competitiveness has improved considerably.