Greece’s economy to grow 5.9pc in 2021, says prime minister

THESSALONIKI, GREECE (AP) — Greece’s economy will grow 5.9 per cent during 2021, far more than the original 3.6 per cent estimate, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday.

Mitsotakis gave the keynote address at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where heads of government traditionally announce the coming year’s economic policies.

Mitsotakis noted that despite there are about 70,000 more people employed than before despite the pandemic; 46,000 additional businesses, and bank savings increased by EUR35 billion (USD41 billion), of which EUR20 billion (USD23 billion) were from additional household savings.

The faster growth gave the prime minister the fiscal space to announce a range of tax reductions and spending targetted at young people, small businesses and the middle class. Small businesses are encouraged to merge with tax breaks and new entrants in the job market will be subsidised.

There was even something for 15- to 17-year-olds who will be vaccinated, in the form of 50 gigabytes of free data for their smartphones.

“Our announcements have one main goal: to increase households’ disposable income,” Mitsotakis said.

The prime minister put special emphasis on climate change.

“This tragedy of overheating will be avoided only if the planet reduces (carbon) emissions to zero by 2050,” he said, adding that his government will effect a swift transition away from the heavily polluting lignite, or brown coal, into renewable energy.

To help with the transition and also to counteract rising electricity prices, the government will set aside a EUR150-million (USD177 million) fund to help consumers absorb the price rises. In addition, about EUR24 billion (USD28 billion) will be invested in environmentally-friendly projects, with the help of EU funds.

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, (L) reacts as he looks at a computer monitor during a tour of Thessaloniki International Trade Fair. PHOTO: AP