The Greek recession this year could be much worse than expected, with the economy shrinking by “more than 7%,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Tuesday.
The central bank has previously estimated that the economy, now in its fifth year of recession, would shrink by 4.5% in 2012.
Samaras told conservative lawmakers that “our first goal is to stop the recession and start with recovery” as unemployment nears 24%. The premier said that within four years, unemployment “can be lowered to 10%,” stressing that Greece remained committed to the terms of two EU-IMF bailout packages despite delays.
“We need to make up for these delays fast,” Samaras said. He then sharply criticised foreign officials who have estimated that Greece will not be able to stay in the 17-nation euro zone as “irresponsible.” “They undermine Greek efforts. We do what we can to get the country back on its feet and they do what they can for us to fail.”