Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Greece Renews Challenge to Creditors’ Austerity Policies

“The war goes on”

Yesterday, there was an interesting article about Greece: "Greece Renews Challenge to Creditors’ Austerity Policies".
I quote: 'In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Greek Labor Minister George Katrougalos said the ruling left-wing Syriza party hasn’t given up its fight against austerity, despite a tactical retreat last year. “We may have not won a battle, but the war goes on,” said Mr. Katrougalos. The 52-year-old lawyer, who is handling the crucial task of reforming Greece’s overstretched pension system, vowed to resist further pension cuts, a step some creditors see as unavoidable.'

Here are a few more interesting quotes from the WSJ article of yesterday (12 January 2016):

The Greek government last week presented a proposed pension reform that it hopes will satisfy both Syriza supporters and the international creditors. The plan, drawn up by Mr. Katrougalos, aims to save money mainly by unifying Greece’s fragmented pension funds, raising social-security contributions and reducing future retirees’ entitlements, while protecting current pensioners’ incomes.
Eurozone and IMF officials are currently studying the proposal. Some creditors, led by Germany and the IMF, believe Greek pensions remain too generous for the country’s weak economy, despite repeated pension cuts in recent years. Further cuts are anathema to the Syriza-led government and its slender majority in Greece’s parliament.
“For us it’s a red line not to reduce pensions for a 12th consecutive time,” Mr. Katrougalos said, adding that average Greek pensions have already been cut by around 40% under the country’s international bailout programs since 2010. Greece is flexible about “the details” of its pension proposal, he said.

Prime Minister Tsipras this month called on the IMF to soften its demands or end its role in the Greek debt crisis. But Germany and other North European countries want the IMF to stay involved, to help make sure Greece undertakes tough changes in return for its huge bailout loans.

“We still stick to our goal of changing Europe”

“We still stick to our goal of changing Europe. We hoped that we could change the balance of power in Europe very fast. It’s clear that we failed to have immediate results,” he said. (...)
But antiestablishment politics is on the rise across the Western world, Mr. Katrougalos, said, because “the middle class is eroding, and there is no longer the same faith and confidence in the establishment as in the past.”
“The real question is not whether we’re going to have change, but if this change will be by the left or by the right,” he said.

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