Greece Says Troika Agrees No 2019 Budget, Pension Cuts Needed

FILE - The sun rises behind the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, Sept.12, 2018. The governing council of the ECB will meet on Thursday. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

ATHENS – It looks as if Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras will be able to stave off imposing more pension cuts he agreed would begin on Jan. 1, 2019 after the country’s European lenders said Greece doesn’t need to make more budget cuts.

That was based on the government saying it had met and exceed fiscal targets largely by not paying its bills and benefitting from an avalanche of tax hikes Tsipras imposed, reneging on promises to roll them back.

The Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) had mandated the pension cuts but Tsipras kept pushing for a reversal of his own agreement in a bid to restore popularity after plummeting in polls for breaking his word to reject more austerity, instead implementing more.

Eurozone members’ representatives at the Nov. 15 Euro Working Group (ΕWG) provided a tentative approval to the Tsipras government’s request to suspend pre-legislated social security cuts, Greek media reported.

The EWG said Greece will hit a goal of a 3.5 percent primary surplus, which also doesn’t include interest on 326 billion euros ($369.61 billion) in three bailouts, the cost of running cities and towns, state enterprises, social security and some military expenditures.

An official decision will have to wait until Eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels on Nov. 14 and with the European Commission unveiling its recommendations on member-states’ draft budgets on Nov. 23.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)