Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is urging Greece’s official creditors to bridge differences and promptly conclude a review on the country’s progress in economic reforms, sticking to the terms of last summer’s bailout agreement, while at the same timehe criticizes the IMF’s attempts to change the design of the Greek reforms programme, in an Op-Ed for the Financial Times.
In meetings in Paris, Strasbourg and Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday, ahead of the resumption of talks in Athens next week, the Greek PM explained that recent data indicators show that the Greek economy is doing better than expected and agreed with French President Francois Hollande (13.4) and European Parliament President Martin Schulz (14.4) that Greece and the institutions must stick to the agreement reached last July and conclude the country’s programme review swiftly, if possible by next week.
In an opinion piece published yesterday (14.4) in the Financial Times, headed “Greece has defied doom-mongers — now the IMF must do its bit”, PM Tsipras defends his government policies and criticizes the IMF for “changing the design of the reforms” proposed by Athens and backed by Brussels, arguing that the IMF is attempting to shift the tax burden “on to the relatively poor”.
With only 0.2% GDP contraction in 2015 instead of the IMF’s projected -2.3%, Tsipras notes that Greece’s economy is “in a better position in terms of achieving future fiscal targets”, and exceeds “several crucial targets: public revenue collection over-performed by €2bn; banks were recapitalised with only one-fifth of the available funds earmarked to this end; the annual unemployment rate dropped from 26.5% in 2014 to 24.9%; and the industrial production index recorded a 3.3% increase in November 2015 — the highest in the Eurozone. Greece also led the way in terms of the absorption of EU structural funds, with an absorption rate of 97%, while tourism broke records with approximately 26m arrivals and €15.5bn of revenues.”
According to the PM, “2016 would mark a turning point in Greece’s economy and society” for a sustainable and inclusive recovery, after the speedy completion of the first review of the government’s credible programme, which “delivers the fiscal yield that we agreed with the institutions and, importantly, distributes the costs of fiscal adjustment in a socially fair way”. He notes that "Greece fails to understand why the IMF insists on changing the design of the reforms in a way that leaves their yield and simplicity intact” but formulates them as considerably less progressive, shifting thus a sizeable “share of the burden on to the relatively poor”.
“Delaying the conclusion of the first review of the ESM program by stubbornly insisting to ignore the letter and the spirit of the agreement does not serve the principles on which Europe has been thriving. But I trust that in the next few days the review will be concluded. And I am confident that 2016 will mark a social and economic watershed for Greece, restoring the pride and optimism of its people and making the country an example of inclusive and sustainable growth.”, concludes the Greek prime minister.
Read more on the Greek structural reforms: Bridging Europe: The Greek Crisis project
See also in Greek News Agenda:Greece to turn page after reforms’ programme review; Greece at the end of a difficult road?; Greece, IMF React Over WikiLeaks Revelations; Greece’s Economic Program Review Resumes, as Creditors Try to Bridge Differences; Minister briefs Foreign Diplomats on Greece’s Priorities and Achievements