ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece expects the first tranche of about 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) from a European Union recovery fund by August, deputy finance minister Theodore Skylakakis said on Saturday, ahead of the formal presentation of a national plan next week.
Under the multibillion euro coronavirus recovery package agreed by European leaders last year, Greece is to get 19.4 billion euros in grants and 12.7 billion euros in cheap loans over the coming years, equal to about 16% of its gross domestic product.
“We expect an amount of about 4 billion euros in July or August,” Skylakakis told local ANT1 TV.
Athens plans to spend more than half the total allocation on green energy and digitalization projects, including connecting islands to the mainland electricity grid, 5G networks and infrastructure for electric cars.
Greece, which saw its national output fall by around a quarter during a decade of financial turmoil, emerged from recession in 2017. Its economy contracted by 8.2% in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak but the government expects a 4% rebound this year.
“This money is for investments only. It’s not for hirings or recurring expenses,” Skylakakis said, adding he will present the national recovery plan to the cabinet meeting on Monday before it is submitted to Brussels in early April.
Under last year’s EU agreement, the European Commission will be allowed to raise up to 750 billion euros on capital markets and pass on the money to member states worst hit by the pandemic through payments linked to jointly agreed reform and investment plans, partly as grants and partly as loans.
The Commission expects the first tranches of the package to be paid out in the summer.