Germany’s Handelsblatt hosts an extensive interview with Finance Minister Christos Staikouras ahead of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to Berlin.
“I hope that in our talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Deputy Chancellor and Finance Minister Allfold Saltz, we will strengthen our mutual trust. I also believe that the visit will help us find common solutions for the future architecture of the eurozone, “stresses Mr Staikouras, answering Handelsblatt’s question about his own expectations from Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit.
Referring to the government’s decision to completely lift the restrictions on the movement of capital from 1 September, the finance minister notes that “the restrictions were imposed in July 2015 in a chaotic situation caused by the then government’s irresponsible and adventurous regular negotiation.” that it followed vis-a-vis creditors. Their removal is one of the pending issues inherited from the previous government. We are eliminating a factor of uncertainty for the Greek banking system and the economy. ”
Answering the question of whether the crisis in Greece is finally over, Christos Staikouras emphasized: “Greece leaves behind a long period of economic and political uncertainty. We must continue, fully aware that there are no magic or simple solutions. ” But is Greece ready to face the danger of recession now seen in Europe? According to the finance minister, “the international environment is very volatile. Geopolitical conditions, protectionism, capital market flows – all exude uncertainty. The risk of recession is real. The implications for Greece depend on the duration of the recession and growth in economically strong countries. ”
Aim for high growth indicators
Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ pre-election announcement that he would negotiate lower primary surpluses to stimulate growth in Greece had been a source of concern in Germany. Handelsblatt’s journalist asked the Finance Minister directly if he will meet the target of 3.5% of GDP agreed with creditors in the 2020 draft budget. “This government accepts the commitments our country has made with its partners and sponsors,” Mr. Staikouras replied, however, noting that the Greek government “will create those conditions of development that will allow us to reduce our primary budget surplus. We are in discussions about these more realistic goals. We know very well that reliability is a decisive factor at this stage. ”
Concerning the pre-election announcement of growth rates of more than 3% per year, the finance minister says the new Greek government wants to achieve this goal “with the proper regulatory framework. This includes tax reform, but also a disciplined fiscal policy, sustainable state revenues and a sound banking sector. ”
“Following the negative spiral of the crisis, we want to bring the economy back to sustainable development by promoting significant investment, privatization, public infrastructure investment and supporting healthy private entrepreneurship,” Staikouras said. But when will we get concrete results? According to the Minister of Finance, “the first positive signs are already visible. Not only is the economic climate at its best since 2008, but the index is moving above the eurozone average. Greek bond yields are at their lowest levels in 15 years. “