March 20, 2020 / 9:59 AM / 13 days ago

UPDATE 1-Greek central bank cuts 2020 growth to 0% on coronavirus impact

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ATHENS, March 20 (Reuters) - Greece’s central bank has slashed growth projections for the Greek economy to 0% from a previously estimated 2.4 percent this year due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, it said on Friday.

In a report, the bank said this was its baseline scenario. The impact of the health crisis was impossible to specify since the pandemic was ongoing, it said. Its impact assessment took into account recent measures announced by the government to shore up the economy.

Greece has already unveiled measures worth 3.8 billion euros to protect workers and businesses from the fallout due to the novel virus. On Thursday, it said it would spend another 3 billion euros from the budget and an equal amount from EU structural funds.

The country’s finance minister had on Wednesday also said Greece was looking at zero growth this year, from the government’s own previous estimate of a 2.8% expansion in output.

Greece has only just emerged from a multi-year debt crisis which required three international bailouts from 2010 to 2015. The coronavirus pandemic has registered 464 infections in Greece, and six deaths.

Authorities ordered a widespread lockdown on Wednesday and tourism bookings, a mainstay of the economy, have stalled.

The Bank of Greece said the pandemic would likely have a ‘significant negative impact’ on the economy for the first two quarters, counterbalanced somewhat by the last two quarters of the year.

It said transport, tourism, trade and entertainment would be particularly affected by a drop in demand. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and George Georgiopoulos, Writing by Michele Kambas, Editing by William Maclean)

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