Greece is back, proclaims PM

Following a difficult week for the government, Friday’s news that Greece has returned to growth following a protracted recession was welcomed enthusiastically by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras who declared, “Greece is back.”

The economy grew by 1.7 percent of gross domestic product on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in the third quarter compared to last year, according to figures released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). This puts Greece on course to achieve the 0.6 percent growth that the government has predicted for this year.

Data published on a seasonally adjusted basis showed that the economy had actually returned to growth earlier this year on a quarterly basis, expanding by 0.8 percent in the first quarter – the first time the economy has expanded since the second quarter of 2009. It then grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter and 0.7 percent in the third quarter on the back of a strong tourism season.

“We promised you that the country would come out of the tunnel of a recession and that is a reality now,” Samaras said in a statement. “This was the fastest growth for the quarter in the whole eurozone. All those who doubted have been proved categorically wrong.”

Acknowledging that the impact of Greece’s return to growth will not felt by many Greeks yet, Samaras promised faster growth and that “no Greek will be left behind.”

The news of Greece’s emergence from recession arrived amid a tug of war at the Finance Ministry. It was made public Friday that the responsibility for tax matters will pass from Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis to Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis. The decision was published in the Government Gazette.

The move comes in the wake of several government own goals over tax issues, including the single property tax (ENFIA) and the new payment plan for tax arrears, which had to be amended Friday.

Sources, however, told Kathimerini that there has been friction within the ministry in recent weeks as Hardouvelis has attempted to increase his powers ahead of a new organizational chart for the ministry being drawn up. The latest development suggests that minister will not secure any major changes in the allocation of responsibilities.

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