Greece's new finance minister Evangelos Venizelos acknowledged that the measures contained in the government's Medium-Term fiscal programme and its Implementation Law are tough and in many instances unjust, but added that he took the responsibility of introducing them upon his assumption of the ministry because they were the only way at this time to serve a pressing national need.
In a statement on Saturday evening, Venizelos said: "I am fully aware that the measures contained in the Medium-Term fiscal program and the Implementation Law are heavy and in many aspects unjust. I undertook the responsibility of introducing them, barely having been a week at the Finance Ministry, because only in this way is an urgent national need served at this time."
He said that finalisation of the 28 billion euros Medium-Term programme, of which 5.6 billion euros are still outstanding, "needed to be done in order to close this circle of negotiations and for fulfillment of the conditions for the prompt disbursement of the (12 billion euros) 5th tranche of the 110 billion euro (EU-IMF bailout) loan", adding that "these 12 billion euros of this 5th tranche are absolutely necessary in order to service the cash needs of the public sector, which in reality is servicing of the immediate and vital needs of the citizens".
Venizelos reiterated that the ministry is at the same time planning the next step, which contains three points: First, ensuring the viability of the state debt, "without which the sacrifices of the Greek people will be in vain"; Second, immediate change of taxation policy and the creation of a National Tax System that will remedy injustices and discrepancies and will restore the moral and social balance of the measures; and, third, negotiation for a new support programme that will lead Greece not only back to the markets but also the restoration of its fiscal and economic independence.
"It is very easy for one to voice harsh criticism of the tax measures which, by their very nature, are unpleasant for the citizens. But that's not what this is about. It is about existing, necessary moves of salvation. What the country urgently needs is stabilization of the situation so that, immediately afterwards, all the required improvements will be made and the prospect that the entire Greek society seeks will be formulated," Venizelos continued.
"It is, therefore, a shame that the collective psychology of the country is undermined and a sense of impasse and injustice prevails, without at the same time no one undertaking the responsibility for an integrated counter-proposal that is less painful for the citizens but on the other hand safe, and not dangerous, for them and the national economy," the finance minister added.
In these coming days, we will have the opportunity in parliament to say all the bitter and harsh truths, so that every one may assume the responsibility of his choices," Venizelos concluded.