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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8700
    JPY
    USD
    106.56
    GBP
    USD
    0.6808
    CAD
    USD
    1.2518
    INR
    USD
    66.404

    Rates may not be current.