Make us your home page
Instagram

Greek leader pledges growth as recession deepens

ATHENS, Greece — Greece's prime minister warned Tuesday that the country's battered economy is expected to contract by 7 percent this year but pledged to drag it back to growth within 18 months.

Antonis Samaras also insisted he would seek a deal with international bailout creditors "as soon as possible" to allow more time for cutbacks and reforms that are key conditions of Greece's rescue loans.

Representatives of Greece's creditors started their inspection of the country's austerity program Tuesday by holding talks with Finance Ministry officials. Today, chief inspectors from the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank — collectively known as the troika — are due in Athens for weeks of talks ahead of their next report on Greece's austerity program, on which continued payment of the loans hinges. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is also scheduled to visit Athens this week to hold talks with Samaras.

Debt-crippled Greece depends on rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund to keep paying for vital public services and servicing its loans. If Athens fails to honor its pledges for further cutbacks and reforms, the cash lifeline could be severed, forcing the country to default on its obligations and potentially abandon the common European currency, the euro.

That would condemn a population reeling from 21/2 years of income cuts and job losses to further misery, as a new Greek currency would plunge in value, wiping out savings overnight and sending the cost of key imports far beyond most Greeks' reach.

Samaras told his conservative party lawmakers that his month-old coalition government must demonstrate that it respects and can implement its bailout commitments. "Next, we will show that to attain our targets some things must change, principally what aggravates and deepens the recession," he said. "Certainly, an agreement to extend the program is something that we will seek as soon as possible."

Samaras said the country's economy could contract by more than 7 percent this year, bringing the cumulative fall in output to 20 percent over the past five years. He claimed, however, that the government could bring Greece back to growth "at the beginning of 2014."

Hours after Samaras' remarks, the government announced a list of 21 state-run agencies due to be merged or abolished, including several public training and research institutes. About 5,200 workers at those agencies are to be transferred to other government jobs.

Greece's calls for an extension on the deadline for its austerity measures — from 2014 to 2016 — have not been welcomed by European governments. The country's creditors are becoming more exasperated with delays and broken pledges from Athens. Some seem inclined to cut their losses and allow Greece to drop out of the 17-member eurozone.

Greek leader pledges growth as recession deepens 07/24/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 9:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  2. Senate GOP leaders face tough job in selling health-care bill to their members

    Health

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders on Thursday moved swiftly to begin selling their health-care measure to substantially rewrite the Affordable Care Act to their wary members as they seek to garner enough support to pass the bill in an expected vote next week.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]
  3. Rick Scott eyes Patronis as CFO, but it may not help him in Panhandle

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's expected pick of Jimmy Patronis as the state's next Chief Financial Officer would be a solid addition to the Republican Party ticket but may not do much to smooth some rough waters developing in the Panhandle over schools, area Republicans said this week.

    Former state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, left, is being considered by Gov. Rick Scott for the state's chief financial officer. Patronis, seen with Scott in 2011, is considered one of the governor's chief loyalists. 

  4. In your 20s and living with mom and dad? In Florida, you're not alone.

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Florida in 2015, Gabrielle Piloto jumped on the highway and headed south to Tampa.

    Gabrielle Piloto, 22, moved home to live with her grandparents in West Tampa after graduating from the University of Florida in 2015. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]

  5. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer daily nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]