News / Economy

Greek PM Promises Hefty Budget Surplus, Recovery in Sight

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras attends a news conference after a debate on the program of Greece's presidency of the EU for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Jan. 15, 2014.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras attends a news conference after a debate on the program of Greece's presidency of the EU for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Jan. 15, 2014.
Reuters
Greece will post a budget surplus of at least one billion euros in 2013 and return the bulk of that to cash-strapped Greeks, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday, seeking to wrest momentum back from an emboldened leftist opposition.

Samaras, whose two-party coalition has just a three-seat majority in parliament, is under growing pressure as polls show the leftist Syriza party steadily gaining ground against the ruling parties ahead of local and EU elections in May.

Greece's economy shrank by almost a quarter and unemployment has soared since the country was forced to slash public spending to avoid bankruptcy. Although a six-year-long recession is seen coming to an end in 2014, many Greeks remain angry about the hardship they have endured.

In a speech to lawmakers from his conservative New Democracy party, Samaras attacked Syriza for being irresponsible and urged his deputies to stay the course.

“Syriza says 'no' to everything. And with these statements it creates problems not for the government but for the country, and puts at risk what we have worked to achieve - the sacrifices of the Greek people,” Samaras said.

He confirmed that Athens would report a surplus before interest payments of 1 billion euros or more in 2013, making it eligible for more debt relief from its euro zone and International Monetary Fund partners and allowing it to divert 70 percent of the surplus to help impoverished Greeks.

Samaras also promised to see out his term through 2016, seeking to quash growing speculation that Greece could be headed for early elections this year.

Talk of an early vote has been prompted by fears that New Democracy will fare poorly in European Elections or that Samaras would not be able to cobble together enough support to propose a candidate for the ceremonial job of President due to be elected in early 2015, which would trigger a dissolution of parliament.

'Waiting and fatigue'

Samaras's comments came as prominent Greek think-tank IOBE warned the economy may suffer a small contraction this year even though the recession will bottom out.

That is a more pessimistic view than that held by Samaras's government, which expects the 183 billion euro economy to pull out of recession this year and expand by 0.6 percent.

“There is a climate of waiting and fatigue in the economy which could entail risks,” said IOBE head Nikos Vettas. “There is a lack of dynamism in investment and structural reforms.”

“The level of investment is still anemic as is the rate of increase in exports,” he said.

IOBE also warned of growing political risk as Samaras's government remains locked in protracted negotiations with the “troika” of European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF lenders and faces pressure from its leftist rivals.

“Talks with the troika face delays,” Vettas said.

“There must be a minimum of political consensus on the course the country must follow, both among political parties and social partners, for the economy to get on the path of irreversible growth.”

You May Like

Key Al-Shabab Commander Captured

Zakariye Ismail Hersi was captured in a raid Saturday morning in the town of El Wak near the border with Kenya More

Relations Between Pakistan, Afghanistan Key to Fighting Taliban

A Pakistani official tells VOA that anti-terrorism campaign has resulted in improved counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan More

160,000 Displaced by Flooding in Malaysia

Prime Minister Najib Razak visits hard-hit Kelantan state, announces nearly $145M in additional relief for victims More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8183
JPY
USD
120.36
GBP
USD
0.6436
CAD
USD
1.1591
INR
USD
63.474

Rates may not be current.