Friday 24 November 2017

Greece targets tax evasion in list to appease the Troika

Despoina Symeonidou, 29, and Vasilis Markou, 39, are photographed after their wedding at the national garden in Athens. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared victory on Saturday after agreeing a last-minute conditional financial rescue deal with Europe, despite making big concessions to avert financial collapse within days (REUTERS/Kostas Tsironis)
Despoina Symeonidou, 29, and Vasilis Markou, 39, are photographed after their wedding at the national garden in Athens. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared victory on Saturday after agreeing a last-minute conditional financial rescue deal with Europe, despite making big concessions to avert financial collapse within days (REUTERS/Kostas Tsironis)

Jamie Dunkley

Greece's far-left government was last night thrashing out a new package of economic reforms that it claims will crack down on tax evasion and overhaul its bloated civil service.

The stricken Mediterranean country has been given until today to unveil the measures after reaching an agreement with its creditors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund on Friday.

Greece had wanted six months' grace on its loans and the rolling back of austerity measures, but has been given a four-month extension on its debt repayment - if the latest reforms are approved.

"We are compiling a list of measures to make the Greek civil service more effective and to combat tax evasion," said Nikos Pappas, minister of state.

Friday's deal with the EU has already been criticised in Greece, with the veteran left-wing politician Manolis Glezos saying: "There can be no compromise between the oppressor and oppressed, just as there cannot between the slave and the tyrant, the only solution is freedom."

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has insisted Greece achieved a negotiating success with eurozone finance ministers.

Greeks reacted with relief that Friday's deal averted a banking crisis which fellow eurozone member Ireland said could have erupted in the coming week. This means Tsipras has stood by one promise at least: to keep the country in the eurozone.

Tsipras maintains he has the nation behind him despite staging a climbdown in Brussels. Under the deal, Greece will still live under the EU/IMF bailout which he had pledged to scrap, and must negotiate a new programme by the early summer.

"I want to say a heartfelt thanks to the majority of Greeks who stood by the Greek government ... That was our most powerful negotiating weapon," he said. "Greece achieved an important negotiating success in Europe."

Top Marxist members of Tsipras's Syriza party, a broad coalition of the left, have so far been silent on the painful compromises made to win agreement from the Eurogroup.

But veteran leftist Manolis Glezos attacked the failure to fulfil campaign promises. "I apologise to the Greek people because I took part in this illusion," he wrote in a blog. "Syriza's friends and supporters ... should decide if they accept this situation."

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said the reform promises would be ready by last night and submitted to Greece's EU and IMF partners in good time.

"We are very confident that the list is going to be approved by the institutions and therefore we are embarking upon a new phase of stabilisation and growth," he said.

A government official said the reforms would include a crackdown on tax evasion and corruption.

The Brussels deal avoids some language which has inflamed many Greeks, angered by four years of austerity demanded by foreign creditors.

In the deal the hated "Troika" of inspectors from the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF, which monitors compliance with Greek bailout undertakings, is referred to as "the three institutions".

Tsipras declared Greece was "leaving austerity, the bailouts and the Troika behind". Nevertheless, government plans must still be approved by the renamed Troika, although Tsipras won the election last month on a pledge to end the humiliation of foreigners dictating Greek economic policy.

Irish Independent

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