Tsakalo­tos to ask for flex­i­bil­ity

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY SOTIRIS NIKAS

Just days be­fore his first con­tacts with the heads of the cred­i­tors’ rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Athens, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos is ask­ing the eu­ro­zone and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund for some flex­i­bil­ity re­gard­ing the re­forms that have to be im­ple­mented and will likely have sig­nif­i­cant so­cial con­se­quences. At the same time the mes­sage from the eu­ro­zone is that the re­forms ef­fort should not be re­laxed.

Tsakalo­tos is hop­ing that some of the im­pend­ing mea­sures can be light­ened. Sources say that the flex­i­bil­ity he is ask­ing the cred­i­tors for pri­mar­ily con­cerns so­cial se­cu­rity, non­per­form­ing loans man­age­ment and la­bor re­forms. The bailout agree­ment pro­vides for more talks on these mat­ters be­fore any de­ci­sions are made.

The call for flex­i­bil­ity arose yesterday af­ter Tsakalo­tos met with the US Trea­sury Depart­ment’s deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for Europe and Eura­sia, Daleep Singh. The min­istry said that Tsakalo­tos as­sured Singh that re­forms “are pro­ceed­ing on sched­ule,” while not­ing that “the in­sti­tu­tions for their part ought to show some flex­i­bil­ity on out­stand­ing is­sues with a sig­nif­i­cant so­cial im­pact.”

As far as the cred­i­tors are con­cerned, there is lit­tle will for back­track­ing from what has al­ready been agreed – and any changes to the pol­icy mix will have to re­sult in the same fis­cal out­come. The heads of the cred­i­tors’ mis­sion are ex­pected in the Greek cap­i­tal on Tues­day to start the ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment, with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel is­su­ing a clear mes­sage to Athens: “We are not al­lowed to re­lax the re­pair of the struc­tural faults of the eco­nomic and mon­e­tary union,” she stated.

At the same time the head of the Euro Work­ing Group, Thomas Wieser, told an Aus­trian news­pa­per that not only does Greece have a fis­cal prob­lem, but it also re­quires deep changes in ad­min­is­tra­tion, as well as in­creased citizen con­fi­dence in the state so that taxes are paid.

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