ATHENS – The Greek economy is “back on track” but is likely to need another six years to return to pre-crisis levels, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Monday.
“We are not out of the woods yet. There are many problems we have to deal with,” Samaras told a conference in Rome organized by the International Herald Tribune newspaper.
“According to most (experts), we will not need a couple of decades, not a couple of generations, but only six years to get back (to) the pre-crisis levels of our standard of living and GDP,” he added.
Samaras credited the tough economic reforms that his government has implemented to comply with its creditors the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
“We have implemented sweeping reforms, we have brought our program back on track,” the former finance minister told his audience.
Recalling “serious mistakes” in handling the crisis in the fraught 2010-2012 period, Samaras stressed that austerity measures alone would not be enough to bring the economy back to rude health.
“One also needs growth-supporting and growth-enhancing balancing measures,” he explained.
His comments came on the eve of a trip to Brussels for talks with EU officials and the start of a new audit in Athens by the EU, ECB and IMF.
Greece has received two EU-IMF aid packages worth 240 billion euros ($320 million) since 2010 in a bailout plan that will wind down next year.
But there is now widespread acceptance that it will need a third rescue package, probably amounting to 10 billion euros.
At least 17,000 teachers and civil servants took to the streets of Greece on Monday to protest against government plans for huge public sector redeployments and lay-offs as the debt-stricken country was hit by a new wave of strikes.