Greek PM says 2017 growth close to 2 percent, jobless rate to ease

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[August 29, 2017]  ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's economic growth rate will be close to 2 percent this year, slightly above the government's revised projection, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a parliamentary session on the collapse of Cyprus peace talks in Athens, Greece July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

The crisis-hit country concluded a crucial bailout review in June and returned to bond markets for the first time in three years in July. How its economy fares is crucial as its third, 86-billion euro bailout expires in 2018.

Athens had projected that the economy would expand by 1.8 percent this year, revising downwards a previous 2.7 percent forecast.

"The projections that 2017 will end with growth rates close to 2 percent will be confirmed," Tsipras said, adding that unemployment, which now stands at 21.7 percent, was set to fall below 20 percent next year.

A new state development bank aimed at funding small and medium-sized businesses will be operational in the first quarter of 2018, Tsipras said.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou)

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