Tsakalotos: Positive measures and reforms will both be implemented simultaneously

The government is working on targeted restructuring measures, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told MPs in Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee on Tuesday, without revealing details about the so-called “positive” measures the government is currently considering.

Briefing the committee on the results of the February 20 Eurogroup meeting, Tsakalotos admitted that the advance legislation of measures was democratically “suspect” but insisted that the government had averted the prospect of only belt-tightening reforms. The minister appeared confident that Greece will be able to join the ECB’s quantitative easing programme, saying the prospect will be even stronger after the medium-term measures to ease Greece’s debt are decided.

The government was not trying to “dress up” the situation, nor claiming an end to austerity, Tsakalotos told MPs, insisting that there were ways to “compensate” or alleviate the impact for those that would lose income because of additional reforms, while refusing to go into details.

Explaining how the various measures will kick in, Tsakalotos said that if Greece meets the agreed primary surplus target, both the ‘positive’ measures and the fiscal reforms will be implemented. If the target is exceeded, this will give Greece additional fiscal space to exercise social policy but if the target is not reached “then something must be done because Greece will outside the target.”

Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis also confirmed that recessionary austerity measures and the measures to boost growth will be legislated at the same time and implemented simultaneously, on condition that Greece is on track to meet fiscal targets.

Chouliarakis denied opposition claims that the positive measures will be implemented only in the case that Greece meets or exceeds targets, explaining that the positive measures will be implemented “proportionately” even in the case that targets were missed.

“For example, if our autumn 2018 target is a 3.5 pct [of GDP] surplus and we reach 3 pct, there will be implementation of 1.5 pct of positive measures,” he noted. Even without this interim agreement, he added, Greece would again have to adopt extra measures if targets were missed.