Greece to present reforms to creditors for approval

Greece was to submit Thursday to its creditors a list of reforms order to unblock critically-needed bailout funds, a government source said.

But the hard-left government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisted it would not back down from ‘red lines’ on labour protection and wage cuts.

“The reforms will be discussed in Brussels,” the source said, adding that the government wanted a deal without austerity “crimes” against the Greek people.

The official added that Athens would not back down on labour issues, income cuts, the sale of state assets at whatever cost and a hike in VAT.

“The government does not have a public mandate to bring a deal outside the red lines, and for this reason it will not do so,” the official added.

EU and IMF officials insist on reform pledges before releasing 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion) in remaining bailout funds that Athens sorely needs.

The government, according to the Wednesday edition of Greek daily Kathimerini, has proposed measures generating around 1.3 billion euros in new revenues for the cash-strapped country, including alternative tax proposals sparing the poor.

Kathimerini said proposals on the list included higher taxes on the very rich and on luxury goods, the sale of TV licences, and a more effective fight against those operating in black markets.

Greek daily Ta Nea reported Thursday that additional measures are a five to eight euro nightly occupancy tax for hotels on Greek island tourist destinations, and a three percent tax on high-end bars and restaurants on those same islands during peak travel seasons.

It is unclear, however, as to whether the package addresses contentious topics such as the liberalisation of the labour market, raising value-added tax, or the thorny issue of cutting state pensions — all of which have been pushed by the IMF, and rejected by the Tsipras government so far.

“The Greek government is ready to accept an honest solution with its creditors that will allow financial aid to be unblocked, and to end the financial asphyxia caused by the memoranda,” Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told radio station Sto Kokkino, referring to hated austerity measures imposed by Greece’s creditors.

Yet Greek junior foreign minister Euclid Tsakalotos — who on Monday was tapped to replace the defiant and controversial Varoufakis to head Greece’s team of negotiators — noted that while his government will not cross “red lines” it has laid down in talks, it was still ready to be flexible elsewhere.

“When you have a political plan, you can find solutions and make some compromises,” he said.

Greece has been trying to negotiate a deal that would unlock the remaining EU-IMF bailout money that the debt-ridden country needs to avoid default and a possible exit from the euro.

But the Syriza-led government, elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, has resisted demands for sweeping reforms and massive privatisations and to honour a series of heavy loan repayments due this summer.

A new sign of concern over the government’s resistance to that pressure came Wednesday, when ratings agency Moody’s cut Greeces credit grade further into junk territory to Caa1.

It also assigned Greece a negative outlook due to Athens’ continuing inability to reach a deal with its EU-IMF partners.


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