"Tsipras is threatening to cancel the Memorandum, but I do not believe that things will develop this way," Stefanos Manos, the leader of centre-right party Drasi said. He explained that SYRIZA has inherited much of the old PASOK voters and now, they have become the spine of its voting mass. These are mainly trade unions, university representatives and government officials. These circles are fed with European money and they will suffer the first and the most if Greece exits the euro area. Manos is therefore clear that no matter what is being said now, if SYRIZA came to power it would not have the courage to cancel the Memorandum because the consequences will most deeply affect its new and most loyal voters.
"We expect to enter the next parliament. We will support any government willing to remain within Europe, and any government willing to carry out deep reforms," Manos made it clear by referring to parties that openly support the bailout agreement. He gave the basic outlines of the election programme of Drasi. Besides the known plans for drastic cuts in the public sector and the closure of unprofitable firms, Stefanos Manos said his party has a three-year plan to support the people dismissed from the broader public sector. He said they would receive 75% of their basic salary (without benefits) for three years until they find a new job. "We cannot do without layoffs, but we can facilitate them in order for these people to rebuild their lives." Manos suggested that deductions for pensions should be eliminated. Pensions will be paid from tax revenues and the state will guarantee 700 euro for each retired person after his or her 67th year. "You realize that it will no longer make sense to hire illegal workers to enable businesses to save costs. This measure will be crucial for relieving major enterprises from significant costs and staff salaries may increase by 17%," said Manos to the audience in the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where he was invited to share his views on the "Euro-drachma" dilemma of the upcoming elections.
Along with innovative ideas for reforming pension insurance, Manos suggested a constitutional commitment of the parties that will form the next government, concerning Greece’s rescue. Their obligation will be to carry out a specific policy and comply with the recovery plan for the economy, whether it is called a Memorandum or otherwise. "The Memorandum of financial aid will be renegotiated no matter which party will come to power after the elections. It is mainly because Greece did not meet any of its obligations under the bailout agreement in the last three months," said Manos. These negotiations are necessary in order to cover the gaps in the programme, not for the political success of a newly elected political leader.
"Reforms are needed mostly in the public sector, but also in the tax system. It should be so simple for taxpayers to understand it and the state to be able to control them," the leader of Drasi insisted. He said the last taxes imposed on property destroyed the value of both private and public property. "If state property for sale had a market value of 50 billion euro a year ago, after the imposition of draconian taxes by the wise men from the Ministry of Finance, it is currently worth 10 billion euro." Tax legislation should be as simple as possible and remain unchanged for a minimum of 10 years. Effective bodies should serve in order to collect and control tax liabilities.
"Quick death" awaits Greece if it cancels the Memorandum, former PASOK Minister of Finance Yiannos Papadoniou warned. "If we do not pay our obligations, Greece could not borrow and local importers will not be able to provide basic foodstuffs, medicines and fuel. This will force Greece to exit the euro area alone and acquire a new cheaper currency. Constant devaluation, inflation and social collapse will then follow," warned Papadoniou. He said that among other consequences, if Greece is not part of a tightly controlled economic environment, such as the euro area, it would face ever-increasing inflation, first of prices of imported goods, then of the whole economy. Inflation will be maintained by the constant need for printing money to cover the gaps created by financial exclusion, the former Minister of Finance said. The result will be the ultimate impoverishment of people, destruction of the banking system and the final separation of Greece from external sources of funding such as the European Central Bank.
Loukas Tsoukalis, a professor at the University of Athens and President of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy attended the meeting in the industrial chamber too. He said, "The accession of Greece to the euro area has been a great success for the country. It has brought two major benefits for us - cheap loans and the accession of Greece to the core of Western Europe." Tsoukalis stressed that for eight years, Greece has drawn an artificial picture of prosperity. The lifestyle did not meet the production volumes of the country, nor the quality of our education system, still less the apparent flexibility the Greek economy showed during this period. The entry of Greece into the euro area and the cheap money allowed governments to postpone the implementation of permanent reforms needed to rescue the local economy. Today, Greece pays for this irresponsibility, the professor said. "Supporters of the drachma forget to tell the people that the return to the national currency means permanent layoffs and economic deprivation and this is an important detail."