Greece open to compromise, says minister

31 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Creditors EU/IMF might agree to discuss with Greece if the latter reneges on electoral promises.

The onset of warmer weather in Athens is usually accompanied by locals flooding the streets of their capital, shopping, eating and drinking out. Considering the fact that Greece is still in troubled waters over its anti-austerity program and bailout deals with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the country is now willing to backpedal on certain policies in order to facilitate a beneficial deal with its creditors this week.The Greek government is apparently coming to terms to secure the much awaited bailout agreement within this week, according to Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis.Recent statement from Greece Interior Ministrer Nikos Voutsis suggest that the country’s government is making good time as it seeks a quick resolution and a bailout agreement in the coming days.

The Greek authorities have been locked at a stalemate with its international lenders (EU and IMF) for months now, mainly due to the cash-strapped country’s arrogance and short-sightedness. Since Syriza’s arrival in power, with its radical approach to debt negotiations, doubts have increased as to whether Athens can clinch a deal at all.

However, the international lenders cite Greece’s reluctance to alter its labor and pension programs as a major reason for withholding further aid. “Some parts of our program could be pushed back by six months or maybe by a year, so that there is some balance,” said Voutsis. The global leaders, however were not as confident as Voutsis, as IMF boss Christine Lagarde said, ‘it’s very unlikely that we’ll reach a comprehensive solution in the next days.’ The US issued a warning of a potential accident for the global financial system if Greece and its creditors do not come to an agreement. When he was elected in January, Tsipras aggressively vowed to o away with austerity, launching numerous reforms, such as restoring the previous minimum wage.

And this uncertain climate has sounded the death knell for thousands of businesses that had been clinging on in the hopes of change after Syriza’s electoral triumph. “Since the elections, the market is completely frozen – people won’t spend a dime because of the insecurity. They don’t know what to do with their money, [whether] to spend it or to hide it,” says Efi Chrisolomou, a shoe shop owner who is in the process of closing her business in the central neighbourhood of Kypseli after nearly 20 years.

The power company is threatening to cut her electricity as she’s been unable to pay her bills, and even the bank keeps calling her every other day to ask her to repay her loan. Ms Chrisolomou says she’s disappointed by Syriza, who rose to power promising the Greeks it would negotiate a better deal with the country’s international creditors. “The problem starts with the EU but the government also promised all sorts of things – promises it hasn’t delivered,” she says. Foreign companies now demand that shopkeepers pay up front, making it difficult for recession-hit businesses to survive. “We no longer have the credit we used to have. This is about the credibility of our country and that’s the real tragedy because there is no solution for us,” says Stamatios Tzanes, a shopkeeper in central Athens who has been importing luxury pens from the same company for the past 50 years. “We’ve come to the point where we prefer a bad deal [between the EU and Greece] than this devastating question mark of what comes next,” he says. Businesses across the country are closing at a rate of 59 a day, according to a study conducted by the Greek commerce confederation, at a cost of 613 jobs and €22.3m to GDP. “The situation of the economy is desperate.

A man who wanted to remain anonymous because he is in debt closed down his business in late 2014 because he could no longer afford to pay his taxes and maintain his social security fund. He owes the authorities €20,000. “I had no choice,” he says. “Now I live day by day, am grateful I don’t have a family, as couldn’t afford it, and pray I don’t fall sick.” Syriza championed a call for universal access to medical services, to help the uninsured and unemployed. Panayotis Barlos, a pharmacist in the Pangrati neighbourhood, says that the lack of medicine started in the midst of the crisis and has taken a turn for the worse in the past few months. “I only store one or two packs of a certain medicine, instead of five or six, as I used to. But if the government increases VAT on islands and makes Greece not competitive compared with Turkey or neighbouring countries, this will be just the worst possible scenario.

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