A good deal today between Greece and its creditors is preferable to a better deal tomorrow, Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis said in an interview with “Kathimerini” newspaper published on Saturday, adding that he believes the country will be included in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program (QE) as soon as the review of its adjustment program is completed.
For Greece to be included the deal with the country’s creditors should be completed at a technical level and the medium-term measures for debt relief should be specified, the minister told the paper. If the agreement concludes swiftly on a technical level, countries such as Germany and the Netherlands will have no excuses to delay the specialization of the medium-term measures, if they want the IMF to participate.
“So the completion of the deal is not only necessary to protect the economy from the dangers of uncertainty but is a valuable tool for an indirect pressure on our creditors, particularly at a time when the elections in these countries are working against us. Therefore, a good deal today is better than a better one tomorrow,” he was quoted as saying.
Chouliarakis said the completion of the deal will shift pressure from the Greek government to the institutions to take the necessary steps for the IMF to participate in the program and the Greek bonds to be included in QE.
“We believe the country will be included in the quantitative easing program of the ECB right after the completion of the agreement,” he said.
The second program review will conclude and people who want to lead Greece to financial asphyxiation this summer “will be defeated”, parliament President Nikos Voutsis said in an interview with “Real News” newspaper, published on Saturday.
“The review will close and those who want to lead the country to an [economic] asphyxiation this summer will be defeated because power relations no longer benefit them,” he was quoted as telling the paper. “The government must take legislative and programmatic advantage of the cracks in the program and the opportunities presented by the progress of the Greek economy,” he added.
Voutsis also attacked the International Monetary Fund and those politicians in Europe who still insist on harsh austerity and social exclusion, accusing them of “anxiously devising for months a balance of terror, which turns their compromises to antisocial reforms in our country.”
Greece’s era of austerity is over, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras claimed Friday, as he painted a positive picture of the reforms his government has agreed to take after the bailout program ends in 2018.
Speaking in parliament, Tsipras described the deal reached Monday as an “exceptional success” and said it showed the country’s creditors accepted Greece’s insistence that it could no longer bear further budget austerity.
“I am fully convinced we achieved an honorable compromise,” Tsipras said, adding that all sides at the eurozone finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels had agreed for the “first time after seven years … to leave the path of continued austerity behind us.”
On Monday, Greece agreed to legislate new reforms to come into effect in 2019, but said these will be fiscally neutral: for every euro’s worth of new burdens on the Greek taxpayer, an equal amount of relief will be granted.
In return, Greece’s creditors agreed to send their bailout inspectors back to Athens next week for further talks to complete a long overdue review of Greece’s progress in its bailout program.
Tsipras said both the new measures requested by creditors and the government-proposed relief measures will be legislated at the same time.
The prime minister’s left-led coalition government, trailing badly in polls, has presented Monday’s deal as a decisive, positive step forward for austerity-weary Greeks hammered by seven years of a financial crisis that plunged the country into an economic depression.
No details have been provided of what the new reforms will entail, although there is widespread speculation they will include a broadening of the tax base and further pension and labor reforms.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has provided no details on the upcoming reforms. Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos on Tuesday said no specifics could be given as the reforms are subject to negotiation and agreement with the country’s creditors.
Greece has depended on three international bailout funds since 2010, when it became locked out of bond markets by sky-high borrowing rates.
In return for the rescue loans, it has had to overhaul its economy, imposing rounds of spending cuts and tax hikes. The austerity saw the economy contract by more than a quarter and sent unemployment soaring. The jobless figure now hovers at around 23 percent, down from a high of 27 percent.