Press Release

Greece: the CADTM condemns an austerity plan that entails major social regression

6 March 2010 by CADTM

The Greek government has announced the implementation of an austerity plan which has the blessing of both the EU and the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
. But in the view of CADTM, the measures it contains are wholly unacceptable. What the Greek government presents as a solution to the crisis is no more than the hijacking of the Greek people, who are being made to shoulder the cost of the irresponsible acts of the financial players who aggravated this crisis.

This austerity plan aims at saving some € 4.8 billion at the expense of the Greek population, for the purpose of repaying creditors. The money saved will also be used to pay the fees of Goldman Sachs, a bank which we now know helped the government conceal part of its debt. Among the measures to be taken:

- a freeze on recruitment and reduction of civil servants’ salaries (heavily reduced 13th and 14th months, reduced bonuses, coming after a 10 % decrease in salaries decided in January);
- a freeze on retirement pensions;
- VAT increase from 19% to 21%, despite the fact that this is an unfair tax that hits poorer people harder;
- dramatic cuts in social budgets, including the Social Security budget.

CADTM asserts that such measures are not the solution but part of the problem. The current crisis is being used to get rid of dearly won social rights. Instead of learning from the crisis, the leaders of the major powers and the IMF are exerting intense pressure to enforce new neo-liberal measures, increase inequalities, and force the population into greater precarity. At the same time, no effective measure has been taken to ensure that the burden of the crisis is borne by those responsible for it and to prevent new crises from occurring.

CADTM calls on the countries that have been hit by the financial crisis to shun the neo-liberal option that led the world into the present impasse, at a time when radically different choices are available. CADTM supports the Greek people who are massively mobilizing in favour of a break with the neo-liberal model. Socialization of losses and privatization of profits are principles that must be urgently rejected.

Translated by Christine Pagnoulle in collaboration with Judith Harris

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