Athens Digest 10.04.2019

• IMF sticks with 2.4 percent growth projection for Greece

MinFin Tsakalotos confirms plan for early IMF-loan repayment and promises swift action on a 120-installment settlement scheme for taxpayers

“Once we deliver the reforms, it would be the right time to discuss the primary surpluses” opposition leader Mitsotakis tells Reuters

Regulator OKs gas-fired power plant in Alexandroupolis

# The International Monetary Fund has repeated its projections for Greek growth of 2.4 percent this year in its World Economic Outlook. The Fund said Greece was likely to grow by 2.2 percent, in 2020, slowing down to 1.2 percent in 2024 _ a forecast included in the country’s first post-programme monitoring report which was released earlier this year. The projections will be re-examined as part of the IMF’s Article IV over the summer.

# Euclid Tsakalotos, the finance minister, has confirmed that Greece is planning an early repayment of IMF loans, and promised to use the money saved on social programmes. Speaking in an interview with a Thessaloniki radio station, Tsakalotos noted that Greece could now borrow at market rates that are considerably lower than a EUR 4 billion portion of IMF loans which have an interest rate of 5 percent. Tsakalotos promised swift action on plans to ease pressure on taxpayers with a 120-installment settlement option, insisting that the scheme would favour conscientious taxpayers who had fallen behind, and have safeguards against strategic evaders.

# “Once we deliver reforms, I think that would be the right time to discuss the primary surpluses,” opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Reuters. He repeated that priority would be given to reforms needed to make Greece more business friendly and allow middle-class tax cuts. His remarks followed a Greek TV interview by the Eurogroup’s Centeno who insisted that Greece’s had to stick to a commitment to deliver a primary surplus of 3.5 percent. Mitsotakis renewed criticism of the Prespa agreement between Greece and North Macedonia. “Although we don’t like the agreement we’ll respect it,” he added.

# Greece’s Damco Energy is expected to invest EUR 300-350 on building a gas-fired power plant in northeastern Greece that will enter service in three years. Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy approved construction of the 622MW power station at the port of Alexandroupolis by the Copelouzos group subsidiary. The northeast port is emerging as an important energy transit point with the development of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, the related Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector, and plans to build a liquefied natural gas terminal.

On our radar: Fly me to…  
NASA is seeking international support in its goal to return to the moon, and among its new partners is the recently created Hellenic Space Agency. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine signed a joint statement with the HSA CEO Georgios Mantzouris at the Space Symposium, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mantzouris said his agency would work on an exploration vehicle to be used on the moon.