Financial News: FinMin: Disagreement with S&P, 'economy improving'

Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou on Wed-nesday openly disagreed with Standard & Poor's rating agency's downgrade of the country's credit rating a day earlier, noting that the state of the economy was improving quarter by quarter.

Greece had found itself in the deepest point of the recession in the last quarter of 2010 but since then, quarter by quarter, the situation has been improving and recession was becoming shallower, Papaconstantinou said, stressing that this sentiment of the Greek government was not founded on hope but on real figures.

The finance minister cited as examples the substantial increases in exports of 25-40 percent in the past four months, particularly in exports of farm products and aluminum, and noted that Greek entrepreneurs are making an immense effort to find foreign markets, and are succeeding.

He said that the processing and retain trade sectors have also begun moving positively.

"It is too early to say that we have emerged from the recession, but recovery has slowly begun, and he will have a positive outcome by the end of the year," Papaconstantinou anticipated.

He reiterated that Greece will return to the markets next year, in line with its program, while he also described as a "breather" for the country the extension of the repayment period for Greece's 110 billion euros EU/IMF bailout loan and the reduction in the interest rate.

The finance minister admitted that there have been delays, but noted that "if we had a perfect public administration, we would not be in this situation".

On the situation in the public utilities and state organisations (DEKO), Papaconstantinou noted that the latest figures available indicate a substantial reduction in the deficits of about 25 percent, but added that "we have a long way ahead of us".

Regarding the denationalisations program, the minister said it comprised serious decisions, which would be put to public deliberation, while he also announced that the detailed program will be unveiled in mid-April together with the way in which the government intends to act in the direction of exploitation of the country's properties.

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