ATHENS, Sept 24 Greece and its international
lenders have agreed on a joint forecast that the country's
economy will contract by 4.0 percent this year, less than
previously projected, two senior Greek finance ministry
officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
The previous estimate by the European Union, European
Central Bank and International Monetary Fund "troika" was that
the economy would shrink by 4.2 percent in 2013, its sixth
straight year of recession.
The course of Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) is a key
variable affecting important ratios including public debt and
the budget deficit which are closely watched under its bailout
"This is a conservative estimate," one of the officials
said, meaning the downturn could even turn out smaller.
Last week Athens said it expected the economy to decline by
3.8 percent this year and recovery is on the way.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said last week the
economy may have already bottomed out, citing government
estimates that GDP had expanded between the first and second
quarters for the first time since the country's debt crisis
Athens hopes that a smaller recession and recovery next year
will help it avoid further, painful austerity measures to meet
the fiscal targets under its international bailout.
The trio of European Union, International Monetary Fund and
European Central Bank lenders began an inspection on Sunday to
assess compliance with reforms and how much further financing
Athens will need before it regains market access.
The two sides are also close to agreeing that Greece will
achieve a small primary budget surplus this year, before
interest payments, a finance ministry official said on Sunday.