ECONOMY

Debt stays put in third quarter

General government debt remained virtually unchanged in the third quarter of the year from the previous quarter, according to data released on Wednesday by the State General Accounting Office, while the finance minister stressed to foreign diplomats that households have lost a third of their disposable income in the space of just four years.

The data showed Greek debt at 321.8 billion euros at the end of the July-September period, equal to 169 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. This was almost the same as the debt recorded at the end of the year’s second quarter – 321.3 billion euros. However it is considerably higher than the debt level a year earlier, when it had stood at 303.5 billion euros, which means an increase of 18.3 billion.

Data reveal that in the crucial couple of years to follow, 2014-15, Greece will have to repay 45.5 billion euros, while up to 2021 the payable debt amounts to 81.4 billion euros. This means that if the country manages to meet its obligations for the next two years, its debt spread in the following years will be reduced to a much more manageable level that will not exceed 9-10 billion euros per annum.

Minister Yannis Stournaras presented on Wednesday the results of the country’s fiscal adjustment to European ambassadors in a working meal in the context of the Lithuanian presidency of the European Union. He told the diplomats that Greek households have seen their disposable income slashed by 35 percent since 2009, while the country’s economy has shrunk by a total of 25 percent since 2008.

“By the end of 2013 Greece will have completed more than 80 percent of its necessary fiscal adjustment, so as to reduce its debt to sustainable levels by 2020,” Stournaras told the ambassadors in a break from his meetings with the representatives of the country’s creditors.

“Today we are optimistic about the future,” he added, reiterating that the recession this year will be at 4 percent or less before the economy returns to growth next year.