by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Greek citizens "will soon feel the difference", Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Monday as Greece exited the harsh bailout programs introduced eight years ago to afloat the debt-ridden country.
"We are entering a new phase for the Greek economy and Greek society in general," Tzanakopoulos commented the exit while speaking to local Real FM radio station.
Since 2010, Greece has received 288.7 billion euros (330 billion U.S. dollars) in loans, with 256.6 billion euros of which from the European lenders and the rest 32.1 billion euros from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to an e-mailed press release by European Commission Monday.
Greece has seen improving economic indicators, while economic growth rebounded from -5.5 percent in 2010 to 1.4 percent in 2017 and is expected to remain around 2 percent for 2018 and 2019.
The fiscal balance has progressed from a massive deficit of 15.1 percent in 2009 to a 0.8 percent surplus in 2017.
Although unemployment remains high, according to figures recently released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority, unemployment fell to 19.5 percent in May 2018, for the first time below 20 percent since September 2011.
"Following the recovery of the country's economic sovereignty, what is now being monitored by the European institutions is not the means to achieve the goals, but the objectives themselves. If the Greek economy will be able to achieve the budget surpluses agreed for debt sustainability," Tzanakopoulos said on Monday.
All figures show that the fiscal adjustment cycle was closed and no new measures are necessary, the Greek official said, according to Greek national news agency AMNA.
On the contrary, he stressed a fiscal room of 750 million euros will be created as of 2019 that can be used for social policies to support the most vulnerable groups of Greek society.
However, after eight years of steep recession and austerity, which hit hard Greek households and businesses, the exit from the bailouts is not an occasion for celebration, as many wounds yet to be healed, Greek ruling party officials, such as Costas Zachariadis, director of SYRIZA party's Parliamentary Group, have acknowledged. (1 euro=1.14 U.S. dollars)