PM Tsipras: We are close to a basic package of agreement

Many people think that what we are after is crazy and a utopia, to remain in the EU framework and abolish austerity when you are a small country, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an interview to “enikos.gr” website on Monday night broadcast also on private Star TV in response to audience questions, but the Greek people and this country played an important role at critical times.

Saying “we are close to a basic package, of agreement,” Tsipras spoke of privatisations as being part of that, but explained that the problem was that the revenues so far went to pay the debt (“the bottomless barrel”) than to fund growth and jobs.

Criticising the troika for trying to prove the Greek debt is viable, they drew up debt sustainability analyses that included privatisation revenues budgeted to bring in as much as 50 million euros but bringing much less in reality. “We ask that these revenues be invested in the real economy and create new jobs,” he said, adding that the government would go ahead in joint ventures between private and public sectors to achieve better results.

Greece needs investments and has multiple opportunities to offer – in tourism and energy – “but the greatest problem is bureaucracy,” he said. “An investor coming to Greece does not know how long it will take for the bureaucracy, and how much he’ll have to pay under the table” to start the process. Therefore, public administration must be simplified and the tax system must be stable – these are two basic premises to attract investments.

Talking about a pipeline agreement with Russia that would supply Greece with natural gas coming through an extension of the pipeline with Turkey, the PM said a discussion is pending but “if we have 3-5 billion euros, or even 2 billion euros for its construction, in prepayments, is that a bad thing for Greece?” he asked, reiterating that the EU regulations would be followed closely, and criticising the press for dismissive reports.