Troika under fire

There was no shortage of anger against the troika during the anti-austerity protests on Wednesday. The frustrated reaction came naturally and it was not fueled exclusively by the opposition parties. To be sure, the parties involved in Greece?s coalition government had systematically stoked public anger against the troika over the past week. Even Yannis Stournaras, the country?s finance minister, rebeled against the IMF envoy here, while the coalition?s junior partners were even more vocal.

The fresh cuts, which are expected to hit state sector workers and pensioners hard, could have been milder if the governments in power since May 2010 — including the present one — had taken action in other sectors, including clamping down on tax evasion and collecting outstanding debts to the state from the self-employed.

However, for decades the country has been ruled by corrupt politicians who either made generous contributions to the party coffers or helped win votes ahead of elections.

During the past few days, and while criticism of the troika?s ?insensitive? posturing was on the rise, the Wall Street Journal published an internal IMF report on Greece which said that a combination of dominant companies and excessive regulation that stifles competition in Greece?s oil-refining industry is costing consumers here more than $1 billion a year.

We cannot judge the credibility of the report here. One safe conclusion, however, is that the troika has in the past couple of years established a network of contacts independent of Greece?s authorities.

Skepticism toward Greece?s political system remains. The government recently came up with the idea of creating free economic zones. The proposal met with reaction from a member of the troika. Although they don?t have full knowledge of Greek realities, the representatives of Greece?s creditors have realized that every special adjustment could favor some specific group at the expense of the common good.

It was not the Greek people who invited the troika here. The decision was made by the government of George Papandreou — a decision that has committed the country for the decades to come. Some saw this development positively. What some people fail to see is that the troika is not interested in the survival of the political and economic elite which is mostly responsible for Greece?s woes.

Adjusting to European standards, regardless of the manner of adaptation, will bring about the undoing of the old system in all of its manifestations.

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