Varoufakis : « Our state apparatus had been contaminated by the Troika »

31 August 2015 by Yanis Varoufakis , Christos Tsiolkas

The interview between writer Christos Tsiolkas and Yanis Varoufakis was published in The Monthly journal. The former Greek minister discusses the position of the European Financial Stability Facility EFSF), which should more correctly be called Financial Instability Facility. Varoukakis exposes what the media, controlled as they are by the Troika, dutifully conceal, namely the outrageous conditions and mechanisms through which they hold Greece under their paw.

Christos Tsiolkas

There is no social-security safety net, and unemployment and working without payment have become the norm. Fine, the pensions were too generous. Let’s cut them. But if there’s no dole, no work, what do you want the 50-year-old to do? Starve? Let me assure you it is happening.

Varoufakis senses my fury. He says quietly, “The class consciousness of 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.

was mind-boggling.”

“Our state apparatus had been contaminated by the Troika, very, very badly. Let me give you an example. There is something called the Hellenic Financial Stability Facility, which is an offshoot of the European Financial Stability Facility [EFSF]. This is a fund that contained initially €50 billion – by the time I took over it was €11 billion – for the purpose of recapitalising the Greek banks.

This is money that the taxpayers of Greece have borrowed for the purpose of bolstering the banks. I didn’t get to choose its CEO and I didn’t get to have any impact on the way it ran its affairs vis-à-vis the Greek banks. The Greek people who had elected me had no control on how the money they had borrowed was going to be used.

I discovered at some point that the law that constituted the EFSF allowed me one power, and that was to determine the salary of these people. I realised that the salaries of these functionaries were monstrous by Greek standards. In a country with so much hunger and where the minimum wage has fallen to €520 a month, these people were making something like €18,000 a month.

So I decided, since I had the power, I would exercise that power. I used a really simple rule. Pensions and salaries have fallen by an average of 40% since the beginning of the crisis. I issued a ministerial decree by which I reduced the salaries of these functionaries by 40%. Still a huge salary, still a huge salary. You know what happened? I got a letter from the Troika, saying that my decision has been overruled as it was insufficiently explained.

So in a country in which the Troika is insisting that people on a €300-a-month pension now live on €100, they were refusing my cost-cutting exercise, my ability as a minister of finance to curtail the salaries of these people.”

Published on Varoufakis blog on August 3, 2015.



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