BY Fraser Tennant
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has called for the completion of a review of his country’s bailout programme so that the nation can begin the major task of restoring its struggling economy.
Mr Tsipras’s call, made during a visit to Thessaloniki where he set out the economic priorities of the Syriza government, followed hot on the heels of a second review of Greece’s bailout programme on 9 September, which found that the Greek government needs to do more to release €2.8bn of funding ($3.1bn).
Specifically, eurozone ministers observed that requested Greek economic reforms had failed to materialise, announcing that of the 15 requirements laid down by EU officials last year as a prerequisite for the receipt of financial aid, only 2 of the 15 conditions had thus far been fulfilled by the Greek government.
Eurozone finance ministers had stated that all 15 of the conditions are required to be met before Greece can be considered in the frame for debt relief talks – something prime minister Tsipras sees as essential. And despite the failure to meet the requirements that would unlock the tranche of funding, Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has urged his EU counterparts to reach a decision on short-term and medium-term debt relief for Greece by the end of the year.
Recognising that debt relief is a crucial issue not only for Greece but for Europe and the entire eurozone, and one that affects big markets and economies such as Italy, France and Spain, Dimitris Papadimoulis, vice president of the European Parliament and head of the Syriza party delegation, said: “From the creditors’ side, mid and long-term measures of debt relief have to be concrete, based on what was agreed on May 2016 [the first tranche of funding] with the so-called 'roadmap' on the Greek public debt – the conclusion of specific measures by the end of December 2016.
“In the same context, it is vital for the creditors to acknowledge the need for realistic primary surpluses after 2019, meaning 2.5 percent for 2019 and 2 percent for 2020. Lowering primary surplus targets can facilitate and improve government’s economic policy mix, reach sustainable levels of growth and ameliorate burden-sharing of taxes among the social groups.”
Overall, the second review of Greece’s bailout programme sent a clear message that it needs to be completed as soon as possible so that enough time is left for the Greek government to implement further reforms, oversee a steady return to growth, combat unemployment and reinstate social justice in all levels of public life.
On a positive note, prime minister Tsipras told his audience in Thessaloniki that Greece was “turning the corner” and that despite creditors making things more difficult, the country would see economic growth of 2.7 percent in 2017.