Inaction and the lack of bold reforms in 2012 have proved that it will cost Greece three billion euro. This is the news brought by Minister of Finance Yiannis Stournaras, who had met as a colleague with the finance ministers of the sixteen euro area member countries for the first time earlier this week. The state has to save three billion euro by the end of this year mainly because between March and July, Greece did not make any substantial cost cuts or undertake any other reform that could reduce the difference between state budget revenues and expenditures.
We can take equivalent measures to convince the creditors that the country can make up for lost time, Yiannis Stournaras said after his meeting with Eurogroup. The measures have not yet been specified, but the economic department of the government is working on them. The Minister made it clear that if alternative sources of funds or savings from other activities could be found, the government would try to avoid cutting the salaries of police officers, military, fire-fighters and medical staff. This will not be an easy task since the June tranche of the aid was not paid to the account of Greece and the government must find a way to meet domestic shortages by September.
Recession in Greece has proved to be much deeper than the previous government and the Troika had estimated, and it will prevent Greece from achieving its objectives under the bailout agreement. Stournaras has pledged to reduce the budget deficit for this year to 14.8 billion euro in absolute value rather than as a ratio to GDP. The deficit at the end of last year was 10% of GDP and this year, it should have been reduced to 7.5% of GDP. Obviously, this could not be achieved due to the shrinking of the total volume of the economy.
The general European mood towards Greece according Stournaras is, "There is support, but they will not make any concessions in the programme." The Minister of Finance defined the obtaining of the next tranche of 31 billion euro as the most important task. For this purpose, the government must demonstrate not only goodwill for changes and actions, but real results as well. The tranche will be divided into three instalments, depending on the progress of measures.
Privatisation remains the strong hand of Antonis Samaras’ government, which it will play in order to regain the confidence of external partners and investors. The head of the Bank of Greece George Provopoulos supported this position and determined the government strategy as correct. At a meeting with President of the Republic Carlos Papoulias, Provopoulos said that the long election period has intensified insecurity in the country and now, it was time for immediate action. "We need to cover the lost distance much faster, to implement the reforms that have been neglected so far and to boldly trigger privatisation and exploitation of state property."
The wind of change in Greece’s privatisation policy has failed to revive the financial market and the Athens Stock Exchange closed with a loss of 3.26%. The main stock index reached 621.69 basis points and the turnover was 32 million euro. The interest rate on six-month government bonds, which the Public Debt Management Agency continues to offer for sale, recorded an insignificant drop of 0.03%. The Ministry of Finance raised 1.63 billion euro, paying 4.7% interest rate on them and the bid was exceeded 2.14 times.