BoG Gov: implement reforms immediately; Budget office head: Road to agreement difficult

23 February 2017
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The heads of two of Greece’s top non-partisan economic bodies on Wednesday stressed that an acceleration of reforms in practically all sectors is necessary for a recovery, statements that dampened attempts by the leftist government to portray a compromise with creditors — over a return of their negotiators to Athens — as a milestone “end to austerity” and “end of bailouts”.

Bank of Greece (BoG) Gov. Yannis Stournaras said the implementation of reforms must aim to liberalize the goods and services markets; eliminate useless and distortive state regulations, and, boost the independence of regulatory bodies.
Stournaras, an influential former finance minister viewed more as a technocrat rather than a political cadre, spoke during an event by a manufacturers’ association in Athens.

In separate statements, the head of the independent Parliament Budget Office said the Eurogroup decision on Monday was, in principle, a positive development, “despite the fact that the delays and costs for the economy could have been avoided”.
Speaking before members of Parliament’s audit and budget committee, Panagiotis Liargovas underlined that the agreement “did not guarantee the Quantitative Easing (i.e. Greek bonds re-inclusion in the ECB program) or measure for the debt; I consider, however, that creditors will find the proper commitments and do what is necessary for QE.”

He also praised the fact that it appears creditors’ will now back a fiscal policy pushing for more structural measures instead of taxes.

Liargovas said a conclusion of the review is a difficult prospect, as five variables must be decided, namely, the exact content of new (austerity) measures; their value in terms of euros; activation clauses for off-set measures; the level of primary budget surpluses after 2018; and the debt issue.

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