ATHENS – The head of the Parliament’s independent Budget Office, Panagiotis Liargovas, who had put out reports criticizing rosy estimates made by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition, has been barred from returning by a committee dominated by the government’s members.
A majority of committee members, along with its Chairman, Parliament President Nikos Voutsis, belong to ruling SYRIZA party and its junior partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic, populist Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Panos Kammenos, who was made Defense Minister after giving his party’s nine votes so Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras could have a majority in Parliament.
Liargovas whose office is independent of politics but has to rely on politicians appointing its head, had reports less optimistic than the economy than the government, which reneged on anti-austerity promises and then claimed it was bringing a recovery without mentioning it was coming because it had rejected its own previous policies.
A majority of committee members voted to replace Liargovas, whose term ended Nov. 30, and seek candidates for the post, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
Liargovas had been derided by the government for the criticism his office leveled against the Finance Ministry’s policies on tax and growth this fall, disputing SYRIZA’s Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, a Marxist economist forced into embarrassing surrenders to the country’s international creditors, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) which put up 86 billion euros ($101.31 billion) in a third rescue package that Tsipras said he would never seek nor accept because it came with more brutal austerity measures.