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PM Samaras says Greece shall recover, signs of exit from crisis appearing soon
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, addressing the Economist's conference on Tuesday evening, sent a message of optimism that Greece shall recover and the signs of the exit from the crisis will be appearing soon. Samaras began his address with a reference to the Boston bombings, saying that "my mind turns to the saddening and inhuman events in Boston and I hope that such events will never be repeated".
"We are viewing the future with greater certainty. We have not overcome the crisis, however the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. It is not only the quantitative indexes, but the qualitative ones as well, such as the competitiveness of the Greek economy. They say that the deepest darkness is shortly before dawn, it is beginning to dawn now, Greece's success shall be a message within Europe," the prime minister said.
Samaras further said "a few months ago many predicted the ruin of the euro and took for granted Greece's exit. Today Greece is remaining and its state is becoming stabilised, while the euro appears more stable. It has not overcome some of its structural problems. A year ago Greece was considered the weak link, some were saying that it is the 'Iphigenia' of the eurozone, today Greece is achieving its targets, it is close to the first stage surplus, the programme is changing and its banking system is becoming stabilised, Greece is making reforms that it had not done for decades. And all these in conditions of crisis, with six years of recession and high unemployment. Today many are astonished".
He referred to the main causes of the recession and added that today they are being reversed: "The recession that brought the Greek economy to its knees had as a cause the austerity measures, the fact that the state since 2010 made a halt in payments and the fact that for a year, liquidity in the banking system has gone dry. We now have the preconditions to overcome all three causes. From early May the banks will be fully capitalised, the state is paying off its obligations, the economy will start to move and businesses will be able to absorb the ESPA (National Strategic Reference Framework) capital. The causes of recession are being reversed. We do not only have austerity but we also have measures that balance the cutbacks and bring restarting to economic activity".
"We are not making any discount in the structural changes. We restored Greece's reliabiity that was essential, while we also began to change the policy that had been imposed on us as well. Last year we changed the external conditions by reducing the debt and the loaning interest rates. We achieved the greatest debt restructuring that has taken place in history and without default. This was also the result of European solidarity. We are now changing the internal adjustment with measures of relief that do not slacken the effort nor adulterate targets but help society withstand the shock of adjustment and maintain social cohesion. Restructuring and recovery go and must go together," the prime minister also underlined.
Samaras spoke, however, of social reactions: "The adjustment is causing two kinds of reactions, those who are justifiably complaining because they cannot stand the downgrading of their living standard due to the crisis despite the fact they had made wise planning and we must back them, and on the other hand those who had become complaisant in a parasitical state and a state-fed economy. We shall clash with them because they do not want anything to change while everything must change. All who are reacting are not unjustified, some are suffering but also all who are protesting are not justified".
Concluding, the prime minister underlined that "it is essential that we change the tax system because it has collapsed in an orgy of tax evasion, but after the haircut it would be a mistake for us to keep taxation at the same height. We must reduce VAT in food services," adding that in income tax we have already taken small steps for the low incomes, while the target remains for a unified 15 percent tax rate for all business activity."
SOURCE: ATHENS NEWS AGENCY