Latest quarterly report by Parliament’s Budget Office under new SYRIZA appointee released

8 May 2018
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The first report by Parliament’s independent Budget Office under its new head, former SYRIZA government official Frangiskos Kountetakis, contains warningus over the possibility of an economic “derailment” in 2018, referring to a possible rekindling of the refugee/migrant crisis in the Aegean and the prospect of a global economic slowdown due to turbulence in money and capital markets.

The regular quarterly report was released on Monday. Kountetakis was a personal choice of Parliament president Nikos Voutsis, after the latter declined to renew the tenure of the previous Budget office head, Panagiotis Liargovas. Kountetakis’ nomination was ratified by a majority of members of a relevant committee, all MPs belonging to the current leftist-rightist government coalition, but sparking heightened criticism by the opposition.

The report refers to the necessity for a long-term economic strategy by the country with a minimum semblance of consensus between parties and social partners.

Highlights of the report include an assessment that a 1.4 GDP growth rate over the past two years – lower than forecasted – was due to a robust increase in exports and investments, given that private consumption remained stagnant, while public sector consumption eased.

The report also cites improved liquidity due to an increase in bank loans, particularly to businesses, as a result of increased deposits, dropping reliance to the ECB’s Emergency Liquidity Assistance mechanism, and a reduction, as it states, in the level of NPLs burdening Greece’s four systemic banks.

The rate of inflation, although slowed, was still positive, while unemployment, the Budget Office report stated, was reduced by almost two percentage points, with employment reaching its highest levels since 2001 – data initially supplied by the labor ministry.

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