Kouvelis: 'nothing is guaranteed'

Fotis Kouvelis, the leader of the third largest party in the coalition, Democratic Left, said on Thursday that the risk of Greece defaulting on its debt was still very real and that much work remained to be done.

In comments to Skai television, Kouvelis spoke of an 'extremely difficult situation' due to an ever-deepening recession. 'Nothing is guaranteed,' he said.

The moderate leftist leader repeated that the coalition aimed to renegotiate the country's loan deal with international creditors and to seek an extension of the fiscal adjusmtment period. 'If decisions are not taken in the context of a deep recession that we are suffering, then the measures will not be effective,' Kouvelis said.

He repeated that there would be no new measures for this year and that around 8 billion euros out of a total of 11.5 billion euros in spending cuts for 2013 and 2014 had been identified. 'We will not have any new horizontal measures,' he said, referring to salary cuts and pensions. He added however that 'wage and pension extremities' would be examined, noting that the intention was to avoid touching welfare benefits. As regards so-called 'special salaries of specific categories of civil servants such as military and judicial officials, he said again that the intention was to avoid any further cuts.

The leftist leader stressed that there would be efforts to provide support for low-income citizens, noting that there may be exemptions for the payment of a property tax for example.

Kouvelis said the area of privatizations was a crucial source of revenue but noted that the state should retain control of assets of strategic importance such as the Public Power Corporation and the Hellenic Railways Organization. He added that privatizations were 'a complex affair,' noting that the legal system did not facilitate the process and adding that there was currently virtually no investor interest and that efforts should be made to attract it.


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