Greece: Stable Outlook for the Economy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Recently appointed Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou on Wednesday defended the government’s economic policy, saying it remained committed to reducing the budget deficit to below 3%, but not at the expense of social cohesion in the country. Commenting on a decision by Standard & Poor’s rating agency to downgrade Greece’s credit rating to A-/A-2 with a stable outlook from A-/A-1, the minister said: “The main reason why Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country is that Greece faces an international financial crisis with high public debt and fiscal deficit. I would like to note, however, that the public debt has fallen to 93% of GDP, down from 100% in 2004, and that the fiscal deficit has been cut significantly from 7.5% of GDP in 2004.  He added that the deficit remains at high levels because of the government’s decision to place the real economy as a top priority, but that it is to the country’s benefit to gradually cut the deficit below 3.0%. “And this will happen with a plan without leaving behind the need for social cohesion. That’s exactly what we will seek with our updated Stability and Growth Programme which we will present by the end of month.”  Athens News Agency: FinMin defends economic policy; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Economic and Financial Data for Greece &  Hellenic Stability & Growth Programme 2007-2010 (December 2007)