Deputy PM rejects EU’s calls for political consensus

Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos has raised objections to calls from EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn for political consensus over reforms in Greece but the government?s No. 2 accepts that Athens might not receive its next EU-IMF loan instalment if it fails to meet its creditors? demands.

Speaking to Skai TV on Wednesday morning, Pangalos said Rehn was wrong to demand that Greece?s opposition parties and the government should reach agreement over the measures that need to be implemented.

?It is possible for Portugal and Ireland; why not for Greece?? Rehn said at a meeting of EU finance ministers on Tuesday but Pangalos suggested the Finn had overstepped the mark.

?His comments suggest that he is trying to attach political terms to the administrative relationship between the European Union and the Greek government but this is not correct and makes things worse,? said the deputy prime minister.

?It is only to be expected that if political terms are added, we will tell him to get his hands off,? added Pangalos.

Greece came under more pressure this week to adopt more effective austerity measures and to speed up its privatization program to secure the fifth instalment of its 110-billion-euro austerity package next month.

At the same time, discussions about some form of restructuring or further loans to Greece have also been discussed.

Pangalos admitted that whether Greece will receive its next loan tranche depends on how well the government applies the loan memorandum. However, he rejected suggestions that additional measures would be needed.

The deputy premier said that Greece?s problem is that its revenues are too low as the government has not done enough to tackle tax evasion.

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