GDP surges 4 percent in Q1

Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3.9 to 4 percent in the year’s first quarter according to National Statistics Service (NSS) data, revealed yesterday in Parliament by Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. The full official data will be published today, giving an optimistic note for the future. Investment rose 5 percent year-on-year, against a decline of 1 percent in the first quarter of 2005. Exports rose by over 3.5 percent and imports increased by about 3 percent. In March, in particular, exports grew by 21.7 percent, reaching 1.4 billion euros. A dynamic 3.5 percent rise was also recorded in consumption, one of the main pillars of growth. NSS sources suggest that with 4 percent as a starting point, growth is likely to exceed the forecast of 3.8 percent for the whole of the year. Growth this year, unlike in 2005, will be bolstered by the 9.1 percent increase in public investment and a rise in construction activity following the 70 percent increase in building licenses issued in the second half of 2005. The government believes that the pickup in the growth rate is attributable to a sharp, 17.6 percent increase in private-sector funding in February, a 5.9 percent rise in retail sales volume during the same month, and the rise in exports. Imports, meanwhile, rose at a slower rate. The NSS yesterday published further positive data, showing that the industrial production index rose by 1.7 percent in March against a 1.1 percent decline in February.