Austerity has been served notice to leave Greece with immediate effect.
Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, addressed parliament today to outline a number of measures that seek to end the enormous suffering inflicted on the population over the five years of austerity imposed by the troika of institutions.
Included in the first wave of policies are:
- Reinstatement of public sector workers who were made redundant unconstitutionally
- Collective wage bargaining will be reintroduced
- Where there is evidence of irregularity, State contracts will be investigated
- Evictions as a result of inability to repay mortgages will be halted
- There will be no more privatizations of state assets and privatizations in progress will be frozen
- A fund will be launched into which will go profits from the development of the country’s natural resources and state property
- Children of immigrants will be granted immediate citizenship
- A new tax on high value property will be introduced
These measures will be much to the dislike of the institutions that tied Greece up in a “bail-out” agreement that has ravaged the country’s economy and led to a reduction of GDP by 25% and a youth unemployment rate of 50%.
Other measures include the sale of a government aeroplane, 700 cars and reduction of staff at the Prime Minister’s residence. These measures don’t make much difference to the national debt, but they signal a determination to continue some measures of austerity that the previous government refused to implement, because previously austerity carefully avoided touching the comforts of the political establishment.
Furthermore Greece is refusing to collaborate with the terms of the bail-out negotiated with the previous government. The Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has been talking to different EU finance ministers to explain that Greece is working on a new proposal for tackling their mountain of debt but that time is needed until May in order to finalise the details. He is seeking “bridging” finance after the end of February, when the next tranche of money was due under the old agreement.
A meeting of Eurozone finance ministers is planned for the 11th of February ahead of a summit of EU leaders the following day.
Across Greece demonstrations of support for their government’s position are being organised and Greek communities and their friends in other countries are doing likewise.