NEWS

Pensions row brewing with IMF

pensions-row-brewing-with-imf

Following reports that the International Monetary Fund is unconvinced by the Greek government’s pension reform proposals, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Monday called on the Washington-based organization to make its position clear in public and to help avoid delays to the upcoming bailout review.

Tsakalotos’s plea came as European Union officials raised concerns about what they see as the “politicization” of the civil service by the current coalition.

Following a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Tsakalotos held a news conference to express the government’s frustration with the IMF’s apparent skepticism about the Greek proposals and the delay this could cause to the evaluation.

“If it is not concluded within a reasonable time frame this program cannot work,” said Tsakalotos, who was flanked by government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili.

“We need several weeks to close the evaluation… It is in everybody’s interest to find a solution and not have a Greek crisis,” Tsakalotos said.

The minister said the talks he had last week with six eurozone counterparts were fruitful and that there was a “great appetite to find solutions.” He contrasted this with the Fund’s apparent position.

“We are worried that the IMF may not share our concern about time,” Tsakalotos said. “Every month of delay creates the impression that this country has not turned a page, which is unfair. We and the creditors are shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.

The minister said that Greece’s lenders have asked for more information regarding the fiscal measures that will be implemented between now and 2018 and on pension reforms. He added that once these have been received, the review will begin.

However, a European Union official has told Kathimerini that the lenders are also concerned about the way the government is treating public sector jobs. He cited the removal of 60 out of 72 state hospital directors as one example.

The EU officials argue that if the government is seen to interfere blatantly in the public sector and to appoint party loyalists, this would deter investors from coming to Greece and fuel the country’s brain drain. “This could have an impact on the review, which is supposed to begin at some point in January,” said the official.