ATHENS – Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis, new in the job, said the country is going to start recovering but can’t back down from tough reforms demanded by international lenders.
Speaking in Parliament where he defended a multi-bill of 600 unfinished reforms insisted upon by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB), Hardouvelis called on lawmakers to do everything the government wants.
“In short, we have gone through most of the fiscal beating,” he said, referring to harsh austerity measures adopted by the government on Troika orders. “We’re not over yet… The path of reforms does not end with the adjustment program,” he added in a shot at government critics.
He said everybody has to come on board to bring back growth and cut record unemployment that was created by big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings.
“It is an affair of the Parliament, of civil society, as well as of every single businessman, professional, worker. Of every citizen. Growth is a wager for the Greeks altogether,” he said, the Athens News Agency reported.
Hardouvelis was optimistic that adding 400 workers to the Public Revenue General Secretariat, whose former chief was forced out reportedly because he was going after high-level tax cheats, would bring in more money for the state.
A former banker, he said that banks will be prohibited from charging their customers for processing applications seeking debt relief.