ATHENS – Reeling in polls after repeatedly reneging on anti-austerity promises, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is frantically trying to find some way to wiggle out of more pension cuts to which he agreed that are due to kick in on Jan. 1, an election year.
The Radical Left SYRIZA leader bowed to the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM), which put up a third rescue package in the summer of 2015, this one for 86 billion euros in return for more brutal conditions on workers, pensioners and the poor he swore he would reverse but then agreed to implement.
Tsipras now reportedly wants to offer the lenders not to seek a reduction in soaring tax rates he imposed in return for reversing the planned pension cuts, the business newspaper Naftermporiki said.
Three international bailouts of 326 billion euros will end on Aug. 20, leaving Greece to the mercy of the markets and facing years of scrutiny from the creditors, including the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) that took part in the first two packages.
Negotiations are ongoing to wrap up undone reforms and with the new pension cuts slated for 2019, with surveys showing Tsipras is going to take a pounding from the party he unseated, the New Democracy Conservatives.
Eager to avoid more anger from pensioners, he wants to avoid hitting them again, other media reports have also said but he needs the okay from the creditors who said they will be watching to make sure he doesn’t renege on them as he did to voters.
The IMF dealt another blow when it reported that even with a recently-concluded debt relief plan approved by the Troika giving Greece more time to repay that there won’t be so-called “super surpluses” in budgets, with the agency seen as a sign it would nix any chance of not cutting pensions further, one of its favorite devices although he admitted austerity wasn’t working well.