Athens Digest 22.11.2018

• Budget 2019 and praise in Brussels: ‘The hard work has paid off’

• Greece gets mixed report card after first enhanced surveillance checkup

• Poll: Greeks say that Conservatives will win next elections

# Just a few hours after getting the nod from Brussels, Greece submitted the final version of its first post-bailout budget to parliament _ with some EUR 900 million in relief measures, no pension cuts, a two-year forecast of growth, and an easing unemployment and national debt. “The hard work by the Greek people has paid off and produced solid results,” EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said, presenting the Commission’s assessments of eurozone budgets. It predicted 2 percent growth 2018 and 2.2 percent growth next year. Greek official projections in the budget were slightly higher _ at a respective 2.1 and 2.5 percent. Seperately, creditors are also awaiting details on pending legislation to replace a bailout-era law to protect distressed mortgage holders, as well as on the mix of measures to be paid for by a potential budget overshoot in 2019.

# Now in the shadow of Italy’s crisis, the news on Greece was positive but its first post-bailout report card was mixed. The report concluded that the Greek government has provided sufficient guarantees that it will live within its means _ finally producing a budget in the black and primary surplus hitting the 3.5 percent target. It also noted that the record is still patchy on reforms agreed over the summer for Greece’s debt relief package. Activation of policy-contingent debt measures, it said, will require a positive assessment in the next surveillance report due early in the new year.

# A new poll shows that 71 percent of Greeks say that New Democracy party will win the next general elections and only 17 percent think that ruling Syriza will win. The Public Issue survey found Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ low approval rating remains unchanged since June at 26 percent, but opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has improved by 4 points and is the most popular mainstream party leader at 46 percent. Figures about the performance of the parties haven’t been announced yet.

On our Radar: Business still wracked with uncertainty
Despite the clear improvements in Greece’s public finances, the private sector remains deeply scared by the years of crisis. A study by the Athens-based Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, IOBE, found that just 4.8 percent of adult Greeks were involved in a new or early-stage businesses in 2017 _ a drop from 5.7 percent the previous year and one of the lowest levels on recent record