News and support from Greece

28 April by Moisis Litsis

On the occasion of our Global Assembly, Moisis Litsis, journalist-member of the Greek Committee Against Debt and the Parliamentarian Debt Truth Committee, gives us news from Greece.

Dear Comrades and Friends

I would like to thank you for your invitation in the present international conference of CADTM. Unfortunately we didn’t succeed to come. We wish you success in your works.

Let me remind you with few words the situation in Greece. We are in sixth year of continuous recession. Our GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
has been diminished at least 25%, with, as you can imagine, harsh consequences for the workers and the Greek people.

The unemployment is still at 30%, meaning more than 1, 5 million Greeks are unemployed, more and more young people are searching for job abroad, there are thousands Greeks in the private sector who are being paid with delay from one month to one year, hospitals has been closed and more and more Greeks covers their health needs in social clinics and pharmacies run by volunteers.

Now the government of Mr. Tsipras is facing new threats by the troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

IMF : https://www.ecb.europa.eu/home/html/index.en.html
, 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.

http://imf.org
, EU, ECB ECB
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is a European institution based in Frankfurt, founded in 1998, to which the countries of the Eurozone have transferred their monetary powers. Its official role is to ensure price stability by combating inflation within that Zone. Its three decision-making organs (the Executive Board, the Governing Council and the General Council) are composed of governors of the central banks of the member states and/or recognized specialists. According to its statutes, it is politically ‘independent’ but it is directly influenced by the world of finance.

https://www.ecb.europa.eu/ecb/html/index.en.html
, who asks for a new round of harsh measures, up to 9 billion Euros, 3, 6 billion Euros as preventive measures in order to be sure that in 2018 the present government will succeed to touch the goals for primary surplus as the creditors demand.

Of course these harsh measures mean more pain for the ordinary Greeks, cut of the pensions and salaries, more burden for the independent medium side entrepreneurs and will cause more damage to the economy, bringing more recession than growth.

Of course the creditors they don’t even talk about a prospect of restructuring the Greek public debt debt-now approximately to more than 170% of GDP-as they promised in their last agreement with Tsipras last July.

But even if there is any discussion about debt, the creditors they don’t talk about a real restructure but for a postponement of the payments and may be a reduction of the interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

The nominal interest rate is the rate at which the loan is contracted. The real interest rate is the nominal rate reduced by the rate of inflation.
.

The government already gave an order to collect the cash reserves from public trust (pension funds Pension Fund
Pension Funds
Pension funds: investment funds that manage capitalized retirement schemes, they are funded by the employees of one or several companies paying-into the scheme which, often, is also partially funded by the employers. The objective is to pay the pensions of the employees that take part in the scheme. They manage very big amounts of money that are usually invested on the stock markets or financial markets.
, social organizations, hospitals etc) and transfer them to Bank of Greece in order to have enough cash to pay for May pensions. The government as some anonymous officials admit has enough cash until June.

The situation reminds the situation last July, before the capitulation of SYRIZA’s government, when Tsipras and the EU imposed capital controls and closed the banks for a week, threatening to cut off the deposits-the majority now of the depositors in the Greek banks are small ones, who succeed to put their economies to bank accounts after years of harsh work.
So this is in brief the situation in Greece now. We still need your solidarity; we still need the solidarity of people around the world in order to try to repel these harsh policies.

Now about our efforts as a Greek Committee Against Debt. Our initiative is already some years old, trying to influence the Greek public about the debt issue and the need for a citizen’s audit and cancelation of the odious, illegal, illegitimate part of the Greek public debt. The debt remains the main issue and the main burden for any present or future government to follow even a small different policy. Greece is totally managed by the creditors who dictate more and more harsh measures…

Our effort didn’t succeed much mainly because the fragmentation of the Greek left, even the so called revolutionary left. Anyway as it has been proved the leadership of SYRIZA never wanted a real initiative challenging the issue of the debt, and simply used the radicalization of the Greek public in order to come on power and betray the hopes and the struggles of the previous years.

Despite all these difficulties, last year in the first period of SYRIZA’s government we succeed, to form the Debt’s Truth Parliamentary Committee, an initiative of the previous president of Parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou, who with your assistance, CADTM assistance, succeed to from the parliamentary committee which published a first report about the Greek debt.

The new SYRIZA’s government dismissed the committee, which still try to find ways to continue its job. As I told before the debt remains the basic issue and I hope that from your conference will produce new initiatives and ideas how to confront the debt issue who is now the main problem for many countries in the Europe’s south, confronting similar challenges and problems with Greeks.

Thank You

Moisis Litsis
Journalist-Member of the Greek Committee Against Debt and the Parliamentarian Debt Truth Committee.


Author

Moisis Litsis

is a journalist in Greece, former trade unionist and member of the Greek Committee against debt. (http://www.contra-xreos.gr/) He worked for many years in the daily newspaper Elefterotypia, where he was member of the workers’ committee, now works for the financial daily Naftemporiki. He participated also in the Truth Committee about Greek Debt of the Greek Parliament.


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