ATHENS Dec 15 Greece's economy, expected to
slump for a sixth straight year in 2013, may begin to recover in
2014, the country's finance minister said on Saturday.
"I believe that after the second half of 2013 we will be
able to see growth, with positive rates of change in GDP on a
quarterly basis or month-by-month," Finance Minister Yannis
Stournaras told Imerisia newspaper on Saturday.
Wage cuts and tax increases will keep the economy in a sixth
consecutive year recession in 2013, with national output
projected to shrink by 4.5 percent, based on official estimates.
The economy has contracted by a cumulative 24 percent since
2008, according to the country's central bank.
"Whatever positive we achieve henceforth will be like rain
falling in the desert, given that the country will be waking up
from a recession of unprecedented duration," Stournaras said.
In a separate speech to a medical conference, Stournaras
said Greece would use 16 billion euros to recapitalise banks
next week, and another 7.2 billion in the first quarter, after
international lenders said they would resume aid payments on
Euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund
agreed to unlock 49.1 billion euros in aid by the end of March.
The decision to release the long-delayed instalment came after
Athens passed austerity measures and completed a debt buyback.
Greek banks will get the capital injection from the Hellenic
Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), which has already provided 18.5
billion euros to the country's four biggest lenders.
"Banks will be able to boost their portfolios with new,
strong bonds from the EFSF (European Financial Stability
Facility), without accessing the (central bank's) ELA (emergency
liquidity assistance) mechanism," Stournaras told the
Athens is aiming at a primary budget surplus next year.