ECONOMY

IOBE chief throws weight behind austerity program

Yiannis Stournaras, director of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), has expressed his support for a controversial package of austerity measures seen as crucial for staving off a Greek default.

In an interview with Skai television’s ?New Folders? program late on Monday, Stournaras said that despite its flaws, introducing the program is necessary to ensure the next slice of a bailout loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The blueprint, known as the midterm fiscal plan, foresees more than 6 billion euros in tax increases and spending cuts. Stournas said that most of the measures should be implemented, even if that were not demanded by Greece’s foreign lenders.

However, the IOBE chief said he would give priority to spending cuts rather than increases in taxation. But he did acknowledge the Socialist government’s efforts to clamp down on extensive tax evasion ? a chronic dysfunction.

Speaking to Skai television, Stournaras also confirmed reports that he had declined a recent proposal by Prime Minister George Papandreou to take over the finance ministry, saying that a technocrat like himself can only operate in a context of political consensus.

Stournaras, however, praised efforts by Evangelos Venizelos, the new finance minister, to tackle the ongoing crisis.