IMF: Greek growth among best in eurozone

15 Mar 19

The IMF has commended Greece’s economic growth as among the best in the eurozone – but urged it to press ahead with unfinished fiscal reforms to avoid any future risks.

Growth in the southern European country is expected to reach nearly 2.5% this year and 2.2% in 2020, from 2% in 2018, the IMF said in its first report on Greece since the country exited eurozone bailouts last year.

“This puts Greece in the upper tier of the eurozone growth table,” Peter Dohlman, IMF mission chief for Greece said.

Greece’s economy was particularly badly hit after the global crisis in 2009 and received big bailout loans, including from the IMF.

Under the terms of Greece’s exit of eurozone bailouts seven months ago, the IMF, which was part of the first two bailouts, and the eurozone lenders continued to monitor the country’s compliance with agreed economic targets.

It said the country should prepare for possible fiscal risks, including increased budget costs due to legal challenges to past wage and pension cuts, reform fatigue and pre-election uncertainty.

The IMF said Greece should cut taxes and carry on with plans to broaden the personal income tax base. 

The latter has been expected to kick in next year, but the left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras, whose term will end in October, has now said the measure will be annulled if he is re-elected as part of his austerity measures to bring down debt. 

Issues such as rising wage pressures may hit unemployment in Greece, where jobless rates already stand at 18%, the IMF warned.  The banking sector also remains vulnerable, the fund said.

“Greece should [...] press ahead with its unfinished reform agenda,” the report stated.

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