FinMin Tsakalotos: Second review will conclude sooner than you expect

Greece’s second program review will conclude much sooner that people expect, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told lawmakers on Tuesday at a conference organized by the Parliament’s Budget Office.

“We don’t need more austerity, we’re approaching the target,” he said.

Tsakalotos said he is very worried about the situation in Europe noting that the Eurozone has a very large systemic problem from an economic and political point of view. “When countries of the North (like Germany) have such large surpluses, the North will never become competitive. It’s the elephant in the room,” he said.

Responding to a question by Miranda Xafa why the government doesn’t allow the heads of the institutions to hold press conferences, the minister said the IMF is not shy about expressing its views. “They have blogs and [Poul] Thomsen says his views that the [Greek] pensions are like the Germans’ and that very few Greeks pay income taxes. The IMF and his representatives here have a great ability to leak information and intervene,” he said.

Concerning the primary surplus target from 2018 onwards, Tsakalotos said “the argument has been won at a scientific level and a very large range of university professors says that a 3.5 percent surplus cannot be achieved for a long time.”