Greek minister resigns, again

Christine Lagarde of the IMF and Greece, cartoon

After this resignation and this resignation from the new Greek government

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Minister quits over too-soft approach to bailout terms

Monday 09 July 2012

by Our Foreign Desk

Hours after the new Greek government won a confidence vote in parliament today, one of its ministers resigned in disgust, saying that it should have pressed harder to renegotiate bailout terms.

Deputy Labour Minister Nikos Nikolopoulos said that the government should have taken a tougher line with international debt inspectors in Athens last week to “correct serious distortions in the labour, pension and benefit systems.”

Greece, in its fifth year of recession, has been surviving on loans for more than two years, while obediently wrecking its economy with harsh austerity measures demanded as a condition of the loans.

There were no surprises in the vote. All 179 coalition deputies voted in favour.

Voting against were the 121 deputies of the radical coalition Syriza, the Communist Party, the Independent Greeks and the neofascist Golden Dawn.

In his concluding speech just before the vote, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras claimed that the three coalition partners had a unity of purpose – to keep the country in the eurozone and haul it out of recession.

The facts seem to say otherwise. In the third quarter, GDP had its sharpest drop yet, declining 9.1 per cent compared to the same period in 2011.

Greece’s battered economy is forecast to shrink 6.7 per cent for the whole year, far above earlier official forecasts of 4.5 per cent.

The coalition partners had vowed to try to convince Greece’s lenders – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF – to extend by up to three years the period of “fiscal adjustment.” But all they have delivered is a full-scale fire sale of virtually all state assets.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told parliament that Greece has received so much money and at such favourable terms that it cannot make any unilateral changes to the bailout deals.

Greece must find €3.26 billion (£2.58bn) to repay a maturing bond on August 20, money that the country does not have and the lenders must provide if Greece is to avoid default.

The country is also hard pressed to find money to pay civil servants’ salaries and pensions.

Suffocating Austerity: The West’s Folly in Greece Repeats Old Patterns. Evaggelos Vallianatos, Truthout: “Not only did the Greek politicians impose an austerity program which reduced the living standards of the Greek people significantly, increasing suicides by 40 percent and unemployment by more than 20 percent, but they agreed to such barbarous terms for the foreseeable future, all but guaranteeing the impoverishment, colonization and eventual slavery of Greece”: here.

Survey: 51% of Greeks Believe Coalition Gov’t “Unable to Resolve Country’s Problems”: here.

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