Dutch envoy: More reforms in Greece necessary; progess needed for Eurogroup to disburse ECB profits on Greek bonds

21 February 2019
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The Dutch ambassador to Greece on Wednesday told a gathering in Athens that “more progress is needed before Eurogroup ministers will decide to disburse ECB profits on Greek bonds.”

The ambassador of the Netherlands to Greece, Caspar Veldkamp, made the statement during an address at a Hellenic-Dutch Association of Commerce and Industry (HeDA) event. His reference to “profits” from bonds are the so-called SMP and ANFA profits.

Veldkamp added:

“I believe further reforms are necessary and possible. Especially in a country that raises its minimum wage by a whopping 10,9 percent, increasing competitiveness by cutting red tape, simplifying bureaucratic procedures, etcetera, is important. If you cannot compete on salary level, you have to increase competitiveness on other aspects. I hope that this year, Greece will improve its score on the various competitiveness rankings, instead of falling down several points again. I believe this should be a priority, for this and for any next government.

“Greece scores only 72nd in the most recent Doing Business Index on the ease of doing business of the World Bank. This is not good enough for a country in the Eurozone. Even a country such as Albania is performing better than Greece. Greece can and should do better!

“Greece must continue to adhere to the primary budget surplus targets that have been set by European creditors. Recently, there have been suggestions that Greece might be able to renegotiate its fiscal targets. For example, by Manfred Weber, when he recently visited Athens. Let me be open and honest about it: I do not see scope for changing agreements that have been made on this matter, and neither does my government.
“Rather than looking at the Eurogroup, I think it is more productive at this moment to look at what Greece can do itself. Within the present targets, much can be done to find the optimal policy mix of government taxes and expenditures, reflecting what Greek voters want.”

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