Jan. 30 - Greece will post a budget surplus of at least 1 billion euros in 2013 and return the bulk of that to cash-strapped Greeks says the Prime Minister. As Sonia Legg reports some economists now see Greece returning to the money markets.
It will be music to ears of many cash-strapped Greeks. The country's Prime Minister says it will post a budget surplus for 2013. And much of the 1 billlion euros will be returned to them. It's only a small step forward - Greece remains firmly in recession with high unemployment. But Eurobank's Chief Economist - among others - is daring to suggest it could soon return to the money markets. SOUNDBITE: Economics Professor and Eurobank Chief Economist, Gikas Hardouvelis, saying (English): "The earlier it goes to the market the better the signal is for the stability of Greece and for the future of this country. But of course it is going to be expensive in the beginning." Political risks remain - the ruling party only has a majority of three. But the current Prime Minister has vowed to see his term through to 2016 if he can, ending speculation of early elections. Theodore Krintas runs Attica Wealth Management. SOUNDBITE: Attica Wealth Management Fund Managing Director, Theodore Krintas, saying (English): "The political risk exists but I don't really believe that this is the most important issue at this point in time, and when we go back to the fiscal, or financial problems I think its a little bit the 'chicken and the egg', because if you manage to go back to the markets then you manage to solve financial gaps." Greece still hasn't received the latest instalment of a second agreed bailout. Austerity fatigue has set in and the government has been reluctant to agree more cuts. But by achieving a primary surplus it qualifies for debt relief from its lenders. That and a return to markets could be real progress. SOUNDBITE: Attica Wealth Management Fund Managing Director, Theodore Krintas, saying (English): "It is really possible that it won't need a third bailout, mainly because if you go smoothly into the markets and your issues are well accepted, it is possible to issue 15 billion euros in the next 18 months." But Greece has received 240 billion euros in bailouts since it was locked out of the markets four years ago. The CEO of EF Consulting says there's a long way to go. SOUNDBITE: EF Consulting Ceo, Miranda Xafa, saying (English): "The financing gap cannot be filled with market access alone because it amounts to about 13 billion over the next couple of years, so even if Greece returns to the market that would not signal a clean exit from official financing support unlike Ireland or Portugal." Greece has enough funds to last until May. But there are obstacles looming. Last week a court reversed some of the public sector pay cuts agreed under the bailot plan. That could blow a 500 million euro hole in the 2014 budget.