Greek FinMin confirms: Strict reax by ESM’s Regling over recent govt measures

20 May 2019
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Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Monday admitted that Athens’ delegation at a Eurogroup meeting last Thursday was the recipient of a “strict reaction” by ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling, with the latter expressing criticism over the Tsipras government’s abrupt announcement of moderate tax breaks and VAT reductions a week earlier.

In a statement to the state-run news agency, disseminated on Monday morning, Tsakalotos, who skipped the Thursday session in Brussels, deflected the criticism, saying the measures are “part of an overall plan, and in essence, proof that Greece is now out of the memorandum (bailouts).” He repeating, moreover, the current catchphrase of his poll-trailing hard left government, the previously UK-based economics professors said the measures were designed “for the many”.

Regling, the powerful head of the Eurozone emergency fund on Thursday was the most vocal critic of the measures announced by the Greek prime minister himself, roughly three weeks before a European parliament election on May 26. Regling echoed European creditors’ concerns and reservations that the measures – including a partial restoration of a so-called “13th pension” affecting more than two million beneficiaries in the country – will threaten the fulfillment of fiscal targets agreed to by Athens for 2019.

Tsakalotos said reactions were “expected by certain people inside and outside Greece … as macroeconomic policy is not neutral, and obviously, there will be reaction by political forces stuck on a policy of austerity.”

He cited the reaction by Regling and the European Peoples Party’s (EPP) candidate for new Commission president, Manfred Weber, countering that German FinMin Olaf Scholz referred to a “Greek success story” and the encouraging words by EU Commission Pierre Moscovici, among the Tsipras government’s most vocal boosters on the European setting.

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