Political tensions are expected to gradually peak over the next two weeks in the countdown to local authority and European Parliament elections as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras seeks to wring maximum gain from the relief measures he heralded last week and conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis stresses the government’s shortfalls.
The government's economic team is reportedly finalizing a package of measures for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to announce at his keynote speech at Thessaloniki's International Fair on Saturday evening, which will utilize the record surpluses forseen in the last bailout program, boost SYRIZA's leftist profile but not draw the ire of the institutions.
Bob Traa, the first International Monetary Fund representative in Greece after the country signed its first bailout program, has blamed the Greek political system for failing both to introduce the necessary reforms in the early stages of the program and to forge a degree of political consensus to deal with serious matters.
Instead of raising state revenues, as was intended, the increased demands on self-employed professionals in terms of taxes and social security contributions have resulted in increased tax evasion, confirming the Finance Ministry’s worst fears.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos warns that delays in implementing agreed reforms and measures with the country’s international creditors will maintain a climate of uncertainty and chip away at the country’s credibility.
Although it appears that there will soon – probably in early June – be an agreement between Berlin and the International Monetary Fund on the lightening of the Greek debt, Athens’s road back to international bond markets remains a long one.
The draft memorandums of understanding submitted to the Finance Ministry on Monday by the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund provide for the possibility of cuts to supplementary pensions from 2019, the lifting of regulations on Sunday trading, the abolition of the Labor Ministry’s veto on group layoffs and the extension of the collective labor negotiations’ suspension until the end of the bailout program, in the summer of 2018.