Racing against time to meet its commitments to Greece’s international creditors, the government appeared unfazed on Wednesday after the State Audit Council warned on Tuesday that legislating pension cuts for 2019 would be unconstitutional.
Citing the court’s advisory – and nonbinding – role, government officials said Wednesday its recommendations will be taken into consideration and that, where appropriate, amendments will made.
With eurozone finance ministers set to meet on May 22 to evaluate Greece’s progress and to wrap up the second review of the country’s third bailout, the leftist-led coalition is scrambling to legislate highly unpopular measures and reforms it has agreed to with international creditors within the next 12 days.
And in a bid to quell any further reservations among SYRIZA lawmakers over voting the measures through Parliament, the government, which is lagging in the polls, reverted Wednesday to its more recent narrative – namely that, with the much-touted countermeasures it seeks to implement, the pressure on large chunks of the country’s population will be somewhat alleviated.
Officials also said that when the bill does go to Parliament it will be accompanied by an explanatory report which will seek to justify the measures, including pension cuts in 2019.
Speaking on Wednesday in Thessaloniki, where he presented his government’s proposed countermeasures on healthcare, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to strike an optimistic tone, insisting that voting through the new batch of measures and concluding the bailout review will be the final difficult hurdle the country will have to clear before it gets back on the road to recovery.
“Today, for the first time, we can see the horizon,” he said, adding that citizens will soon see this.
Critics have been eager to point out that the government has flip-flopped on its position regarding the act of legislating measures ahead of time, as is the case with pension cuts.
Tsipras himself said, as late as last December, that creditors’ insistence that Greece implement measures from 2019 onward is “undemocratic” and something that “no national parliament within the eurozone and the European Union would accept.” Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos had echoed similar sentiments with regard to legislating ahead of time, saying it would be “problematic for democracy.”