ATHENS Jan 2 Greece beat its target for taking
up European Union co-financing funds in 2013 after it
streamlined businesses' access to the money, the Development
Ministry said on Thursday.
Government data showed Athens beat its 3.89 billion euros
($5.36 billion) target - one of the conditions of its European
Union-International Monetary Fund bailout - by 710 million.
Six years of recession have forced thousands of businesses
to close and sent unemployment to record levels. The economy is
forecast to return to 0.6 percent growth this year.
Greece must make sure it is eligible for 5.5 billion of EU
funds by 2015 under its current 20.5 billion EU co-financing
programme, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said.
"The absorption rate beat even the most upbeat projections,"
he said in a statement.
Investment in debt-laden Greece has dropped by about 60
percent since its prolonged recession began in 2008, crimping
efforts to exit the downturn and kick-start growth.
Greece has been rescued from bankruptcy by the EU and IMF
twice since 2010 with 240 billion euros of loans.
Hatzidakis said that Greece has shortened procedures for
co-financed projects and started work again in December on a 7.6
billion euro toll road project that had been mothballed for
"(The programme) cannot on its own resolve the problems
faced by businesses and the economy," Hatzidakis said. "But it
can be a catalyst for the return to growth."
Greece ranked fourth out of the EU's 27 member states in
absorbing the funds in 2013, up from 18th a year earlier.