Tsipras calls for bailout deal 

Tsipras calls for bailout deal 

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Source: Wikimedia

Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has said Athens wants a speedy conclusion to the stalled review on bailout reforms, fearing delays could stifle economic recovery after years of recession.

EU lenders earlier this month suspended short-term debt relief for the nation after Tsipras’s left-of-centre government granted a Christmas bonus to pensioners without holding discussions with creditors.

Tsipras announced on December 8 that his government would be distributing any excess primary fiscal surplus above the programme’s 0.5 per cent of GDP target to the 1.6 million pensioners receiving monthly pensions of €850 or less.

Greece’s long-term unemployed make up 74 per cent of the total unemployed population. Less than 2 per cent of that group receive the tiny long-term unemployment benefit.

But pensioners are a much better organised voting bloc.

Tsipras also announced a freeze on the consumption-tax rises for Greek islands that had been disproportionately affected by the refugee crisis.

Greece is following reforms outlined in a bailout programme worth up to €86 billion. It is the third programme since 2010, and regular reviews of reforms and approval by creditors enable Greece to continue receiving financial aid.

“Our aim is to conclude the second review in a timely manner so there is no question hovering over the positive momentum,” Tsipras announced in Athens. “Greece now has the basic preconditions in place which would allow it to autonomously enter money markets in 2017.”

The country was poised for an economic recovery after seven years of recession, Tsipras told the launch of an equity fund in cooperation with the European Investment Bank, the European Commission’s financing body.

He said the Greek economy was on course to rebound by 2.7 per cent next year and 3.1 per cent in 2018.

“It’s my deep conviction … there isn’t a European institution which would want this road map disrupted, of emerging from this deep tunnel the Greek economy found itself in for many years,” the prime minister said.

“Nobody would want to revisit the uncertainty over the country’s prospects, and certainly nobody would want to discourage investors who are starting to regain confidence, thus weakening the prospects of recovery,” Tsipras added.

Germany, the International Monetary Fund, Turkey, the refugee crisis and his collapsing popularity are squeezing Tsipras.

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