Greek fin min­is­ter sends Dick­en­sian jibe for Xmas

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

ATHENS: The Greek fi­nance min­is­ter’s Christ­mas cards this year fea­ture Ebenezer Scrooge, the tight-fisted pro­tag­o­nist of Charles Dick­ens’ “A Christ­mas Carol”, in a what is clearly a jibe di­rected at the coun­try’s cred­i­tors.

Some of Greece’s EU part­ners, es­pe­cially Ger­many, ob­jected to tax hand­outs by Alexis Tsipras’ govern­ment to is­lands strug­gling with an in­flux of mi­grants, a mea­sure that has trig­gered a row with the debt-rid­den na­tion’s cred­i­tors. The min­is­ter, Eu­clide Tsakalo­tos, sent e-cards to staff and jour­nal­ists with an early il­lus­tra­tion by renowned car­i­ca­tur­ist John Leech for “A Christ­mas Carol”, show­ing the ghost of Scrooge’s dead part­ner telling him that he must change his ways or face eter­nal damna­tion.

“Per­haps in all of our Christ­mas tales there is a ter­ri­fy­ing char­ac­ter like Ebenezer who re­ceives the sea­son’s spirit in an im­mense soli­tude, and closed like an oys­ter. And maybe our Christ­mas tale is no ex­cep­tion,” read the card’s cap­tion. “But, dear friends and col­leagues, our wishes go be­yond all the Ebenez­ers of this world. We don’t give up on our wishes,” it said.

The tax mea­sure was an­nounced ear­lier this month, along­side a one-off bonus to the poor­est of pen­sion­ers, af­ter the govern­ment found it­self with a 1.0-bil­lion-euro ($1.04-bil­lion) tax sur­plus.

Tsipras said it was pol­icy “to re­turn ev­ery sin­gle euro of sur­plus to the weak­est”.

But Greece’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors said they had not been fully in­formed of Tsipras’ in­ten­tions ahead of the an­nounce­ment. In re­sponse, the eu­ro­zone group said it would sus­pend a re­centlyan­nounced debt re­lief scheme for Athens.

In “A Christ­mas Carol”, the miserly Scrooge fi­nally re­deems him­self, starts lav­ish­ing gifts on the poor and treats his fel­low hu­mans with kind­ness and gen­eros­ity.

It may be a co­in­ci­dence, but on Christ­mas Eve cracks also seemed to ap­pear in the Eurogroup’s un­for­giv­ing stance. Sources there said Satur­day their con­cerns had been “al­le­vi­ated” by a let­ter from the Greek au­thor­i­ties ex­plain­ing the tax mea­sures.

As a con­se­quence, they said, the group would re­sume work­ing on debt mea­sures for Greece-but only af­ter Christ­mas. — AFP

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