Gov’t shifts at­ten­tion to pub­lic woes

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

With Euro­pean of­fi­cials now pub­licly ac­knowl­edg­ing that to­mor­row’s Eurogroup will pro­duce no con­crete re­sult for Greece, the gov­ern­ment has shifted its at­ten­tion back to do­mes­tic con­cerns, hop­ing to con­vince ci­ti­zens that it is do­ing all it can to ease the im­pact of aus­ter­ity on their daily lives.

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras con­vened the po­lit­i­cal coun­cil of left­ist SYRIZA with State min­is­ters Alekos Flam­bouraris and Christo­foros Vernar­dakis said to have pre­sented a series of ini­tia­tives for im­prov­ing the daily lives of ci­ti­zens. The aim is to re­duce the pres­sure on MPs who keep hav­ing to ex­plain ad­di­tional aus­ter­ity mea­sures to their con­stituents, but also to ease dis­con­tent among Greeks as of­fi­cial fig­ures show that they shoul­dered a sig­nif­i­cant bur­den last year.

Ac­cord­ing to state bud­get fig­ures that were made pub­lic yes­ter­day, Greeks paid 1.4 bil­lion eu­ros in ad­di­tional taxes last year. The ad­di­tional levies fell on busi­nesses as well as house­holds, with the is­lands of the Aegean com­ing un­der par­tic­u­lar pres­sure due to the re­vo­ca­tion of a value-added tax dis­count.

Tsipras and his aides are ex­pected to try to dis­tract from th­ese hard facts in com­ments to­day dur­ing events be­ing or­ga­nized to mark the sec­ond an­niver­sary of left­ist SYRIZA and the right-wing In­de­pen­dent Greeks com­ing to power.

Of­fi­cials must also win round the coun­try’s cred­i­tors. Gov­ern­ment sources be­lieve they can get bailout talks back on track with one or two key con­ces­sions: chiefly by agree­ing to ex­tend the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the au­to­matic fis­cal mech­a­nism, known as “the cut­ter,” for a year be­yond 2018. In com­ments to re­porters yes­ter­day, gov­ern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los said Athens wants euro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters to “ac­knowl­edge progress” it has made un­der its bailout when they meet in Brus­sels to­mor­row.

Speak­ing in Dublin ear­lier yes­ter­day, Euro­pean Eco­nomic and Mone­tary Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner Pierre Moscovici said to­mor­row’s meet­ing would not sign off on the re­view though Euro­pean of­fi­cials hope to do so as soon as pos­si­ble.

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