Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Socialist Greece has No "Plan B", Delays Submission of Reform Agenda to Eurogroup


ATHENS – The Greek government will miss the original deadline of midnight Monday to deliver a list of detailed proposals to carry out the accord reached last week with its Eurogroup partners to extend a loan program.

The document will be delivered Tuesday, Greek officials said, offering no explanation for a delay that the other 18 eurozone countries apparently accepted.

The European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund will evaluate the proposals from Athens before the eurozone finance ministers take up the plan in a conference call set for Tuesday afternoon.

Greece’s current financial lifeline expires Feb. 28 and no new funds will be made available to Athens until after the list of proposed reforms is approved by the Eurogroup, the ECB and the IMF.

The plan to be submitted on Tuesday will include all the elements of the “first pillar” of the platform drafted by the leftist Syriza party before winning the Greek general elections last month, official sources said.

The first pillar comprises measures to address the effects of the austerity policies imposed on debt-strapped Athens as a condition of receiving financial support to pay Greece’s creditors.

Syriza’s proposed “humanitarian” measures include free electricity and food stamps for some 300,000 households subsisting below the official poverty line and expanded access to free medical care.

The Greek government also wants to fulfill a campaign promise for a moratorium on home evictions.

Other aspects of the proposal focus on objectives shared by Syriza and the Eurogroup such as cracking down on tax evasion and corruption and streamlining government operations.

Greek media suggest the government expects anti-smuggling enforcement and collection of unpaid taxes to generate some 4.8 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in additional revenue.

The accord reached late last Friday in Brussels has caused divisions within Syriza, with some prominent members of the party denouncing it as a capitulation after the party won election on a pledge to end austerity, which has pushed unemployment to record levels even as Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio has soared to 175 percent.


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