April 25, 2020 / 7:23 AM / a month ago

Greek economy expected to shrink by 5-10% this year - finance minister

FILE PHOTO: Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session before a budget vote in Athens, Greece, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas/File Photo

ATHENS (Reuters) - The Greek economy, hit by coronavirus restrictions, is expected to shrink by 5-10% this year, the country’s finance minister said on Saturday.

“It seems we have been settling at a range of between 5 and 10 percentage points,” Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told Open television station.

He added that estimates are changing constantly, depending on the impact of the restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19 and on how those restrictions will be lifted.

As of late Friday, Greece had reported 2,490 cases of COVID-19, including 130 deaths, a low rate compared to many fellow EU member countries.

The country, which exited its three international bailouts in 2018, had been on a recovery path since a 10-year debt crisis that brought a 25% contraction. The economy grew by 1.9% last year, helped by booming tourism, which is also expected to take a big hit this year.

The International Monetary Fund has said it sees the Greek economy shrinking by 10% this year, driving unemployment to 22.3% from 16.4% in January.

Greece has extended lockdown measures by a week until May 4 and is expected to start easing restrictions slowly after that date.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Frances Kerry

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