ATHENS – Former Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, who penned severe pension cuts and other slashes that came known by his name – the Katrougalos Law – now said that more scheduled for Jan. 1, 2019 aren’t necessary and should be stopped, arguing the government doesn’t need permission from the country’s creditors to do it.
Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras agreed to the cuts after swearing they were a Red Line he wouldn’t step over but jumped over, as he’s now trying to wiggle out of doing with 2019 being an election year and his popularity plummeting after constantly reneging on anti-austerity promises.
Three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($377.02 billion) expired on Aug. 20 but the lenders, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) said they will monitor the country’s economy for years to make sure Tsipras doesn’t try to undo austerity.
Despite that, Katrougalos, now the Alternate Foreign Minister – a field in which he had no real experience – said that Greece won’t need the lenders okay to stop the pension cuts if certain fiscal targets are hit.
He said the cuts are not “an institutional reform and that the reduction was unnecessary,” disputing the creditors and Tsipras, who agreed to them as needed under the terms his government reached, going against its alleged principles.
The creditors have insisted that, “agreed-to reforms must proceed as planned,” although some EU officials that agreed reforms aren’t necessarily agreed reforms depending on how they’re defined and by whom, with critics saying that’s a way to save SYRIZA politically as it plunges.
Katrougalos gave a pained and convoluted explanation as to why the cuts that Tsipras said were necessary were unnecessary and none of the lenders’ business.
“We have agreed to and we will respect, to the letter, that no deviation from institutional reforms will take place. Allow me to again say that a reduction in the personal difference (of pensioners affected by subsequent austerity measures) is not an institutional reform. If it’s proved that what the IMF said does not apply, and EFKA (the primary umbrella social security fund) posts a cash surplus and we’ve also achieved a fiscal target, and assuming that actuarial studies show that the reduction is not necessary, why should a reduction occur?”