After yet more debate it appears that discussions on how Greece intends to reach their target of 11.5 billion euro’s of cuts will carry on over the days ahead. With Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras stating that ‘The €11.5bn is not an issue [to be solved] tomorrow’, and a meeting with representatives from the EU, ECB and IMF taking place next Thursday, is seems there will be another full week of uncertainty.
The leaders of the three coalition parties met and were briefed by Stournaras on what progress had been made in achieving the targets set under the second bailout agreement. But instead of a comprehensive plan Stournaras presented only a draft list.
After Stournaras insisted that the government ‘still don’t have concrete measures’ decided, a senior aide to the minister stated that ‘Up until the moment Stournaras meets the troika talks will continue on how the money will be found. Today, agreement was made on the general direction [of the cuts] not the details.’ He then intimated that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his two junior party leaders had brokered agreements on cuts amounting to 8.1 billion euro’s, but this is still almost 4 billion less than Greece’s creditors are expecting.
The Finance Minister did assert that the 11 billion euro’s would be found by next week and that this year’s 3 billion euro budget black hole will be filled. He wasn’t convincing enough for some however. Mere moments after talks closed for the day the leader of the far left Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras was vocal in his opinion that the three-party coalition was ‘lying’ about not intending to implement more severe austerity measures. Tsipras continued by stating that ‘The government is executing orders from the troika and is not serving the public interest’. He then appealed to the government, urgently requesting ‘an emergency meeting of European leaders to discuss a new strategic plan for the Greek case.’
PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos claimed that the three-party coalition government had reached agreements on how they should progress. The first step he outlined was a revision of the loan agreement. He then went on to say that a new mid-term fiscal adjustment programme had to be drafted, and that the country must make structural changes rapidly in order for there to be liquidity in the market. Venizelos also stressed that the measures previously decided for the 2012 budget will be carried out with all possible social sensitivity, and that no course taken regarding the 11.5 billon euro’s cuts will be all-embracing.
Then Venizelos announced that the coalition will be taking action at high-level in order to emphasis what Greece has achieved, and to overturn the negative perception of the country that exists in Europe.
Prior to his meeting with the Troika on the 26th Stournaras will hold a teleconference with euro-zone finance ministers. Hopefully by then the coalition will have developed a more concrete picture.