Tsakalotos to Guardian: IMF ‘economizing truth’; denies agreement for high fiscal goals after 2019

13 December 2016
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Greek FinMin Euclid Tsakalotos shot back at the IMF’s very public and stinging criticism of the Greek program on Monday, which salvos fired at both the leftist government in Athens and European creditors, charging that the Fund was “economizing on the truth”.

Tsakalotos’ statements were relayed by the Guardian’s veteran correspondent in Athens, Helena Smith, who adds that the UK-based academic turned Greek politician and minister dismissed the prospect of more austerity measures after 2019 to meet fiscal targets.

“The Oxford philosopher J L Austen was particularly critical of forms of argument that relied on the following technique: there’s the bit where you say it, and then there’s the bit where you take it back. The IMF is particularly open to this criticism,” was the quote of Tsakalotos disseminated by the Guardian.

“In effect it is arguing for Greek pensioners and poorer wage earners to make further economies, while it economizes on the truth.”

Tsakalotos also took exception to the IMF officials’ reproach towards Greece for its small tax base, high tax-free ceiling (compared to other European states) and criticism over pension rates in the country.

“Greek expenditure on both pensions and other subsidies is about 70% of the EU average and 52% of that of Germany. Is it likely when around 45 percent of pensioners receive monthly payments below the poverty line of €665, and almost four million people, that is more than a third of the population, have been classed as being at risk of poverty or social exclusion, that Greece’s main problem is that pensions and tax credit allowances are too generous?

Moreover, Tsakalotos denied that his SYRIZA-led government agreed to meet European creditors’ demand for high (3.5 percent of GDP) fiscal targets after the bailout ends in August 2018.

“I laid out the position of the Greek government (at a Dec. 5 Eurogroup meeting) that high primary surpluses for an economy like Greece and what it has gone through during the crisis make no economic or political sense,” he was again quoted by the Guardian as saying.

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