Greeks urged to end delays on reforms

ATHENS — A senior official from the European Central Bank on Monday urged Greece’s new government to avoid further delays in implementing major structural reforms.

ATHENS — A senior official from the European Central Bank on Monday urged Greece’s new government to avoid further delays in implementing major structural reforms.

ECB board member Joerg Asmussen is in Athens as the struggling country’s new coalition government holds talks with its rescue creditors. The government is seeking to amend Greece’s bailout program as it battles a fifth year of recession.

Asmussen, who met Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, said Greece should not “stretch the pain” of reforms any further.

“If one has identified that something needs to be done, do this quickly,” Asmussen told a financial conference in Athens. “Don’t wait. Don’t stretch the pain … because this is better to restore confidence in an economy.”

Greece’s new conservative-led government was formed quickly after June 17 general elections that ended months of political uncertainty, but saw a sharp rise in support for parties opposed to the bailout.

New Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is convalescing at home following an eye operation, argues that the terms of bailout agreements that started in 2010 have failed to stimulate growth.

Asmussen, however, said failure to tackle the underlying problems of Greece’s crisis — a lack of economic competitiveness, high debt and a bloated public sector — would only result in more pain.

“The new government should not lose precious time looking to avoid or loosen the program. It should instead focus on how to maximize the effectiveness of reforms,” he said.

“The problems do not go away. Instead markets lose their trust in official statements. Governments have to take even more drastic policy measures to win back credibility.”

Greece narrowly avoided bankruptcy earlier this year, before winning a major debt restructuring deal with banks and additional bailout money from the other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

In return, Greece slashed the minimum wage as part of ever-harsher austerity measures.

Debt inspectors from the so-called troika — EU, IMF and ECB — are due in Athens this week to meet the new government, that is backed by Samaras’ conservatives, traditional rival Socialists and a small left wing party.

The salary cuts and tax increases that Greece has imposed have sent unemployment spiraling to above 22 per cent,

The new government is facing more public discontent this summer, when a major round of tax hikes takes effect. A raft of tax exemptions will be scrapped and the annual threshold of taxable income will be slashed from C12,000 to C5,000 ($15,100 to $6,300).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Second day of search yields no sign of French snowmobilers missing in Quebec

ST-HENRI-DE-TAILLON, Que. — It was an exuberant group of French travellers who… Continue reading

Barriers exist for women to get into Conservative race: Marilyn Gladu

OTTAWA — Tight timelines for membership sign-ups and a high entry fee… Continue reading

Royal Canadian Legion expels members for wearing unearned military commendations

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Legion says it has taken a landmark… Continue reading

China, Russia under pressure from Myanmar Rohingya genocide ruling: Bob Rae

OTTAWA — China and Russia face pressure to prevent genocide in Myanmar… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

David Marsden: Drug addicts deserve our care

The provincial government, rather than seizing an opportunity, is flirting with putting… Continue reading

Second day of search yields no sign of French snowmobilers missing in Quebec

ST-HENRI-DE-TAILLON, Que. — It was an exuberant group of French travellers who… Continue reading

Local Sports: Tyler Podgorenko’s presence with the Kings being felt

The biggest question surrounding the RDC Kings hockey team going into the… Continue reading

Barriers exist for women to get into Conservative race: Marilyn Gladu

OTTAWA — Tight timelines for membership sign-ups and a high entry fee… Continue reading

A look at Canada’s seven NHL teams heading into the all-star break

When the NHL returns from its bye weeks and all-star break, there… Continue reading

Canada stamps honour on pre-NHL all-black hockey league

CHERRY BROOK, N.S. — Canada is paying tribute to an all-black hockey… Continue reading

Toronto Argonauts, Saskatchewan Roughriders to square off in Halifax

HALIFAX — Brett Lauther will be returning home this summer. The CFL… Continue reading

Most Read