Greece won’t implement tax reforms without debt deal in place — Tsipras
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Alexis Tsipras, prime minister, insisted in a television interview that Greece planned to legislate additional tax and pension reforms demanded by bailout creditors but would not implement them unless a deal on debt relief was in place.
“These measures aren’t going to be implemented if the issue of the debt isn’t resolved,” Mr Tsipras told ANT1 television.
His warning came as bailout monitors resumed negotiations in Athens on final details of a reform package designed to ensure the International Monetary Fund would join the country’s €86bn current rescue package as a financial partner.
Sounding an optimistic note, Mr Tsipras said he expected a deal to be wrapped up by May 22, adding “after that we will soon have an agreement on the debt.”
Greece agreed this month to adopt measures that would improve its primary budget surplus – before paying debt servicing costs – by 2 per cent of gross domestic product.
The measures would be divided roughly equally between cuts in pensions due to be made in 2019 followed by a sharp reduction of the income tax threshold in 2020. But they could be implemented earlier if the budget surplus target veers off-track.
Mr Tsipras said the extra measures would be included in a package of bailout reforms due to be approved by parliament next month.
“But a sovereign country can reverse something that it legislated if the [debt] agreement isn’t adhered to,” he added.
A senior Greek official said draft documents on separate memoranda to be agreed with the EU and IMF had been prepared ahead of this week’s meetings.
Tuesday’s talks focused on privatisation issues that still have to be settled. These include the projected sale by the Public Power Corporation of 40 per cent of coal-generated capacity and government foot-dragging over setting up a new “super-fund” that would modernise large state-owned companies and prepare them for privatisation.
“If it were our choice, we wouldn’t favour privatisations but public-private partnerships. But the country was bankrupt so we didn’t have any choice but to go ahead,” Mr Tsipras said, referring to infrastructure and real estate sales carried out under Greece’s earlier bailouts.