BUSINESS

Dijsselbloem leaves Athens with no room for maneuvering

DIMITRA MANIFAVA

TAGS: Finance

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem attempted on Wednesday to curb expectations that Greece’s primary surplus target could be lowered, insisting that Athens must implement the measures agreed to with its creditors.

“If Greece implements the bailout agreement fully, then at the end of the program, after mid-2018, a new debate can start both on the revision of the targets set for the primary surplus, and on the debt,” the Dutch finance minister told Greek journalists on Wednesday in The Hague.

He went on to remind the reporters that the agreement between the creditors and the Greek government was very recent and “sealed” and did not need reopening, before adding, “The Greek government knows what it has agreed on about the debt, so that’s it.”

Concurring with what other European Union officials have repeatedly said, Dijsselbloem stated that the implementation of the Greek program is now paramount. Questioned about the possible inefficiency of members of the Greek cabinet, he said: “It is the government that has undertaken to implement it and the government bears the responsibility. If they cannot implement it, then they do not have the confidence.”

He went on to indirectly criticize the International Monetary Fund, saying it is impossible for the IMF to claim the measures taken are not enough, likely in response to comments by IMF representative Delia Velculescu at an Economist conference in Athens a few days earlier.

Referring to the participation of the Washington-based Fund in the program, Dijsselbloem stated that “there was an IMF representative participating in the negotiations who agreed with the decisions of the Eurogroup. The Fund’s board will have to decide by the end of the year about its participation.”

He did not hesitate to issue some advice to the IMF, arguing that it must take its commitments seriously, and said that “if the IMF says the measures taken are too little, this will upset me, but I do not think it will do so.”

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