Greek government officials and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ close associates remained in Athens during the Easter holiday to prepare for the critical April 24 Eurogroup.
The Greek government is determined not to backtrack from the “red lines” they had set during their first meeting with the country’s partners. Meanwhile, they are attempting to overcome the creditors’ suffocating pressure by creating a list of new reforms, while Greece’s liquidity is dangerously coming to an end.
“Pension Cuts? Auxilary pension abolishment? Collective redundancies? VAT increases? Selling off public wealth? The government will never sign such an agreement,” said Greek government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis addressing New Democracy’s request to close the deal.
However, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’ statements on Bloomberg hinted that the government is currently considering to make some sacrifices in order to reach an agreement and gradually start disbursing money from Brussels.
At the same time, Dimitris Stratoulis and Panagiotis Lafazanis stressed that they will not make any sacrifices in regards to the current pension plan. “At this time, there is no equality in Greece. They treat Greece as if it is a new colony,” said Lafazanis, noting that this behavior is unacceptable. “Greece is a sovereign country that needs support to end the crisis, not to be pressured into taking more austerity measures that lead to recession, the Greek society’s nightmare,” he added.
Alternate Foreign Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos revealed government plans for measures against tax evasion and corruption as well as “hidden wealth” tax offices, in statements published by Greek newspaper “To Vima.”
Tsakalotos said these measures will allow Greece to achieve balanced budgets and a primary surplus of 1-1.5% of GDP.
He noted that a first step is to improve the VAT collection rate and a measure for broadcasting frequency licences.
“The major negotiation over the debt in June will be the most crucial. It is critically important that there is a satisfactory debt settlement to make it sustainable and relieve the country from excessive costs for servicing it, especially in times of recession as at present,” he said.
Tsakalotos also repeated assurances that a zero-deficit clause for pensions will not be implemented, noting that the government might consider changes to “some extreme cases of early retirement, which we also agree on, but no more.”
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