Athens.- In his New Year’s message to the nation, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said 2016 will be a year of “recovery and regrouping,” adding that 2015 was the year that “the Greek people raised their heads high and boldly asserted their rights.”
“We are putting behind us a tough period of crisis and entering the next five-year stretch of our nation’s rebirth. These five years will be about regrouping and making the major inroads, changes and reforms that the country needs,” the prime minister said in his address.
“Five years from now, when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greek independence, we will have built a Greece that is deserving of its history and its people. A modern European nation, with deep roots of equality before the law, meritocracy and social justice,” Tsipras said, calling for “humanity and solidarity” in the battle against the humanitarian and refugee crises, as well as unemployment.
Pension proposals being finalized forlenders’ scrutiny
Social Security Minister Giorgos Katrougalos on Wednesday gave Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras the latest version of his ministry’s proposal for reforming Greece’s pension system as government sources insisted that authorities were committed to avoiding any further cuts to main pensions.
There is to be a final round of talks between Tsipras and his top aides over the coming days with the aim of sending a final proposal to representatives of Greece’s creditors by Monday. The authorities are hoping to get the proposed reforms to Parliament by mid-January following a discussion with the lenders of its provisions.
Though the creditors have indicated that further cuts to pensions are all but inevitable, the government has suggested that it can raise adequate revenue for cash-strapped social security funds by increasing the contributions paid by employers and workers. Creditors remain skeptical about such a move, however, due its potential impact on struggling businesses.
Tsipras reiterated his commitment to protecting primary pensions in discussions with ministers yesterday, his aides said.
In its proposal to creditors, Athens plans to stress the damage that further pension cuts would wreak on the recession-wracked economy, sources indicated Wednesday.
Greek officials also plan to highlight the humanitarian impact of further cuts, noting that high unemployment has led to entire families relying on pension payments.
Greek savers still wary of Tsipras
As Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras braces for another round of tough negotiations with creditors, savers are still reluctant to bet their money that this year’s talks will be less perilous for their country’s place in the euro area than 2015, Nikos Chrysoloras reports for “Bloomberg”.
Data released from Greece’s central bank this week showed that deposit outflows continued in November for a second consecutive month, even as the nation’s lenders plugged their capital shortfalls, and strict capital controls put in place last summer capped withdrawals and money transfers abroad.
Deposits held by households and businesses in Greek banks fell close to a 12-year-low of 120.9 billion euros ($131.3 billion) in November, bringing total losses to a record of more than 43 billion euros, or 26.4 percent of total savings, in the last 12 months.
Savers’ distrust may derail the government’s goal of lifting capital controls by the end of June. Reluctance to return deposits held abroad or under mattresses back to banks hinders the ability of lenders to provide credit to the economy, as the government struggles to lead Greece out of recession in 2016 after a turbulent year which pushed the country to the verge of leaving the euro area.