NEWS

PM tries to sweeten measures pill with hints at debt relief

TAGS: Economy, Politics

With Thursday night's Parliament vote on a fresh batch of highly unpopular measures expected to take an even heavier toll on the government’s standing, it has launched a frantic effort to shift the focus to the positives – namely what it insists are imminent debt relief measures from the country’s creditors.

This came through loud and clear during Wednesday's debate in Parliament on the new bill, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras exuded confidence and optimism that he “will be forced to wear a tie” – in reference to the promise he made back in 2015 that he would wear a tie only when the country’s receives substantial debt relief.

“The news is so positive that we are having difficulty believing it,” he told Parliament reporters.

He was quick to add, however, that people shouldn’t get carried away with their expectations, but lit up again just moments later, saying that the news “is too good to be true.”

Tsipras also said that he was certain, after meeting International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde in Beijing on Saturday, that the Washington-based fund means business when it says it won’t join the Greek bailout program without the country’s debt becoming sustainable.

He also said German Chancellor Angela Merkel was getting increasingly involved in the talks about reducing Greek debt.

If everything goes as planned, he said that an agreement on debt relief will be secured by early June at the latest, if not the May 22 Eurogroup.

According to the government’s roadmap, Greece will then be included in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program, which will pave the way for a trial return to international markets.

An agreement on debt relief, he said, will lead to a further reduction, below 5 percent, in yields of 10-year Greek bonds.

Tsipras, however, did not say what would happened if the IMF doesn’t join the Greek program.

Online