They say the devil is in the details…not this time, because the details are all the same, just re-branded for easier consumption for the Greek society.
So the “troika” has been re-branded to become the “institutions”. The “Memorandum of Understanding – MoU” has been re-branded to become the “Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement” (MFAFA), which includes language requiring that Greece “comply with the measures set out in the MoU,”…in other words, with the austerity measures dictated by European banks.
Greek political commentator Pavlos Tzimas said, “Very heavy concessions have been made, politically poisonous concessions for the government. It’s going to be a crash test on the domestic front for the government.”
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said, “The Greeks certainly will have a difficult time to explain the deal to their voters. As long as the program isn’t successfully completed, there will be no payout.”
And so with all the bravado and hoopla that the new radical SYRIZA government provided us over the last month in its very public battle with the EU, the end of Greece came with a whimper and a thump. The EU, IMF and European banks are now in full control of what was once the cradle of democracy and civilization. The keys to the house have been officially handed over to Brussels, and in four months time, the full scale dismantling of the Hellenic Republic will move forward at full speed.
The European Commission, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, are assessing the list before it goes to finance ministers.
They “will provide us with a first view as to whether these are sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for the successful conclusion of the review,” Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of his euro-area counterparts, told a European Parliament committee in Brussels before a conference call to discuss the list. “My first impression is they are quite positive.”
Based on the provisional agreement between Greece and its official creditors on Feb. 20, the approval of the list is a condition for extending the availability of bailout funds for another four months. The current program, which has been keeping Europe’s most indebted state afloat since 2010, was scheduled to expire at the end of this month.
So what are the revised Greek reform promises? Here are some of the key proposals:
- Work toward creating a new culture of tax compliance.
- Reform VAT policy, administration and enforcement.
- Modernising the income tax code.
- Resolutely enforce and improve legislation on transfer pricing.
- Greece will modernise the tax and custom administrations benefiting from available technical assistance.
- Work toward drastically improving the efficiency of central and local government administered departments.
- Validate benefits through cross checks within the relevant authorities and registries.
- Phase out charges on behalf of ‘third parties’ (nuisance charges) in a fiscally neutral manner.
- Unify and streamline pension policies and eliminate loopholes and incentives that give rise to an excessive rate of early retirements throughout the economy.
Good luck with any/all of these.
Furthermore, in the entire qualitative list of egregious promises none of which will be satisfied, there is not a single number to anchor any expectation, not a single benchmark, target milestone or timeline. In short, a big-picture bulletin of promises which the Troika will gladly accept just to kick the can for another 4 months now that the Tsipras government which was given just enough rope with which to hang itself, has been reduced to a shell, and merely an extension of the Samaras government, having reneged on virtually all its promises to the people.
As for the Syriza government’s “mandate”, what has happened over the past week is that the new government’s list of unfulfillable promises to the Greek people has been replaced with a new list of unfulfillable promises to the Troika.
In other words, back to square one. Only this time Greece has even freely available cash than ever before!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.