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Govt promises that any addition austerity will be accompanied by off-set measures

The embattled Greek government painted the Monday’s decision to return creditors’ negotiators to Athens, in order to conclude the second review of the bailout program, as a “very positive development,” with the relevant government spokesman claiming the IMF’s demands are “not on the agenda of talks”.

The line out of Athens early Monday evening is that “any (new austerity) measure taken will be off-set by a corresponding measure”.

The same leitmotif was echoed by minister of digital policy Nikos Pappas, a former minister of state and of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ closest associates.

Speaking to an Athens television station on Monday evening, Pappas said “the IMF demanded austerity of 2 percent (of GDP) in 2018 … after a general outcry, we concluded on a neutral fiscal result… If we decide on a measure that will be a burden, then we’ll have a corresponding one that lightens (the burden),” he said.

Pappas mentioned, for instance, the lowering of the tax-free threshold for annual income — something the Tsipras government repeatedly said it would not implement — saying that if it is, indeed, lowered, then the property tax (ENFIA) rate should be lowered.  

Conversely, the reaction by the main opposition center-right party was scathing.

New Democracy (ND) party, which is comfortably leading the ruling leftist SYRIZA in all mainstream opinion polls, charged that the “government is once again trying to fool the Greek people.”

ND said the return of creditors’ negotiators will me additional painful measures and defeat by the government, with no date given for a conclusion of the second review.

Α later unofficial statement by the government charged that ND’s announced was “written yesterday”.