The deal’s still not done, and the bailout cash remains in limbo, but the coalition finance minister is pledging his Troika troth. But one coalition partner remains firm that it won’t sign off on draconian labor measures beloved of the Men in Black from the North. And the leader of the party currently topping the polls adds a sharp jab. The finance minister fainted, while Prime Minister Antonis Samras sings a choruzs of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
The Troika’s ready to send in the clowns er technocrats, preapproved by Berlin and Paris, while bondholders say they ain’t a-takin’ no more haircuts. And extension rumors continue.
There’s really bad news for small business and the self-employed, a higher tax rate and the loss of almost all exemptions [gotta pay those bondholders], long-term jobless are left without healthcare, Fitch blesses bank mergers, while the fainting minister cancels a bankster meet.
A major invesment advisory group warns the loss of Coke may reduce Greece to Third World status [really], more strikes are underway, both Syriza and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn are campaigning in the Big Apple, while the Golden Dawn boss says he’s not a Nazi.
And a Greek television show greets a legislator beaten by a Golden Dawn member with a clown in boxing gloves. Really.
Finance minister swears fealty to Troikarchs
There’s still no done deal, but, by gosh and by golly, Yannis Stournaras is gonna get it done, and just the was the Lords of Money like it.
After all, he’s a man after their own hearts — and, presumably, their help in finding a cushy landing spot after his political careers lies in smoking ruins.
From Agence France-Presse:
Greece will stand by extra reform efforts thrashed out with international creditors, the finance minister said on Thursday, despite resistance to more austerity from within the ruling coalition.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the government was “pressing on” and that the new measures would be introduced in parliament next week.
The deal is required for Greece to meet demands by its EU-IMF creditors and unlock a 31.2 billion euro ($40.5 billion) installment of rescue loans.
“We do not have any more room (for delay),” said Stournaras, who briefly visited hospital earlier in the day and was diagnosed as suffering from fatigue and a viral infection.
He said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras “is certain that all (coalition) lawmakers will give their consent, especially lawmakers of the calibre of Fotis Kouvelis,” referring to a junior coalition leader who opposes deeper labour reform.
Read the rest.
Not so fast, Samaras, says coalition partner
The increasingly outspoken head of the smallest player in the three-party coalition has drawn a line in the sand, and he’s not crossing it — at least for now.
It’s the Troikarch’s austerian impositions on the Greek working class that are the stone in his shoe.
Greek Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis said negotiations with troika were ongoing on Thursday as objections by the Democratic Left, the coalition’s junior partner, to labor reforms proposed by foreign creditors continued to pose an obstacle to a final rubber stamp on the deal. In comments to Parliament’s internal affairs committee – as Kathimerini online reports -, Vroutsis said the three parties in the coalition had done their best to minimize the social impact of the austerity measures and called on lawmakers to await the outcome of a Euro Working Group meeting in Brussels where Greece is topping the agenda.
The executive committee of Democratic Left was to reconvene at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday to discuss the thorny issue of labor reforms once again. Although party officials concede that the new agreement on labor reforms achieved by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is ‘’improved’‘, they believe that outstanding issues must still be resolved.
Party spokesman Nikos Tsoukalis said Democratic Left’s stance ‘’represents something different in the political scene and sets out the limits to the negotiation.’‘ Finance minister Yannis Stournaras, for his part, rebuffed reports that the controversial labor reforms would be revoked.
And when the meeting ended, the announcement followed, one certain to upset Samaras.
From A. Papapostolou of Greek Reporter:
The center-left Dimar party, the smallest in the government’s three-party coalition, announced it will vote against the labor reform agreed to with the Troika of creditors; the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF. The reforms are part of a package of austerity measures needed to release a new bailout.
“We are asking the Troika to withdraw these proposals,” said party representative, Sakis Papathanasiou, in a TV interview. The government announced it has ended negotiations with the Troika on the austerity program
The standoff puts Antonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister, in a difficult position since his finance minister has publicly rejected any changes before the reforms are put to the Greek parliament. A rejection by Democratic Left could put the programme at risk since centre-left Pasok, the second largest party in the coalition, could face defections without Mr Kouvelis’ support.
“Let’s hope everything will be OK at the end,” said a senior government official.
Number one party weighs in
Number one in current public opinion polls, and the left’s alternative to hacks of Pasok.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras delivers his latest rebuke of the the government’s submission to the Troikarchs.
From Athens News:
Pressure takes its toll on finance minister
It’s gotten so intense that bodies are dropping.
From Keep Talking Greece:
Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras was rushed to hospital on Thursday morning after he suddenly fell uneasy. According to Greek media, doctors diagnosed ‘overworking’ and a virus infection. Stournaras did not stay in the hospital. Doctors advised him to take a day off.
A discussion in the parliament scheduled for today has been postponed.
Read the rest.
Meanwhile, the prime minister slogs on
He’s puttin’ on a happy face, and hoping folks buy it.
From Al Yunaniya:
Antonis Samaras argued: “The negotiation continues, I will not back down… I know very well what is at stake today for the country. For three months now, every day, we are changing the image of Greece. And we are negotiating under the most difficult circumstances to get the country out of the recession.
We already have changed many original proposals by troika on labour and other issues as well. And he negotiation continues. The only criterion for me is Greece and its future. I will not back down on this responsibility. And I do not want to think what would happen if I do not keep my hands firmly on the wheel. I look only forward, seeking the greatest possible unity. Greece will be saved by those of us who will dare.”
Sources say the Prime Minister said that the final deadline for agreement amongst political parties should be reached by Thursday.
Read the rest.
Send in the technocrats, German- and French-approved
Them what’s got the gold make the rules, and the latest shot called by the folks to the North and West is a task force of the World’s Finest Technocrats™ summoned to invade the country and instruct Greeks in The Rules™.
International experts and consultants supported by France and Germany could be brought in to help the Greek government, sources said Thursday.
Those two European allies are prepared to help Athens “regain the confidence of investors,” a high-ranking source told ANSA.
Meetings have been ongoing this week to find a solution to Greece’s debt woes and clear the way for billions more in euro aid.
Read the rest.
Bondholders scoff at another haircut
One of the top eurobanksters proposed another haircut for those folks holding Greek bonds, a proposals greeted with some relief in Greece.
One only problem.
The folks who hold the bonds aren’t having it.
European authorities have not contacted the International Institute of Finance about plans to let Greece buy back its bonds at current market prices to reduce it debt level, IIF Managing Director Charles Dallara said during a press briefing Wednesday, says mninews.
According to the report, the IIF, which helped negotiate the private sector involvement in Greece’s restructuring, would not be in favor of such a deal, Dallara said.
European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen recently floated the idea of the Greek government using borrowed funds to buy back its own sovereign debt from financial markets at current depressed prices in order to reduce its debt ratio.
“At the moment it looks like Greece’s debt level will rise to well above the target of 120 percent of GDP by 2020,” Asmussen said. “Thus, one has to consider elements that could make it possible to achieve that goal. One possibility would be buying back debt.”
“The best use of any additional available Eurozone-related funds to cover that [financing] gap would be to help take down the interest charges of Greek debt, not use the funds for market based buy backs which after all do not address the heart of the problem today,” Dallara said.
Read the rest.
Meanwhile, the extension rumors continue to circulate
Here’s one of the latest resuscitation efforts, following Tuesday’s on again/off again delerium.
We suspect there’ll be some sort of extension — if Samaras can muster the votes to get the austerity package passed.
More money for Greece. The finance ministers of the eurozone are said to be ready to approve a new loan of between EUR 16 billion and EUR 20 billion.
German newspaper Handelsblatt says that high-placed sources think the eurozone’s second EUR 130 billion bailout package for Athens is not enough.
This comes amid unconfirmed speculation that Greece will also be given more time to hit its budget deficit targets, till 2016 and not 2014.
Yesterday in parliament Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras said his country had been granted an extension but IMF sources later said it had not.
Read the rest.
Another gruesome bit of news for Greeks
There’s a new flat tax for that will mean a lot of grief for the self-employed and small businesses, already reeling from the impacts of the crash and reduced demands for their services and goods.
Not only does the measure raise taxes for the lowest-paid, but it also strips away most of their deductions.
A flat tax rate of 28% is set to apply in Greece to all those who are self-employed and to enterprises. The new tax bill, as daily Kathimerini unveiled today, includes radical changes in the taxation Continue reading