IMF demands further austerity in Greece


By Robert Stevens
10 May 2013

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a “Concluding Statement” May 3 demanding there be no relaxation of the austerity programme it has imposed on an already severely impoverished Greek population.

The statement follows the IMF’s recent inspection mission to Greece, alongside the European Union (EU) and European Central Bank (ECB).

The reaction of the bourgeois media in Greece and internationally to the report was to stress its call for the coalition government to do more to prevent tax evasion. Typical was the BBC’s headline, “IMF hails economic ‘progress’ but warns on tax evasion.”

The reality is that the call by the IMF to collect more tax from the rich is almost a footnote in the report. After stating a truism that applies to every capitalist country without exception–that “Very little progress has been made in tackling Greece’s notorious tax evasion. The rich and self-employed are simply not paying their fair share”–the overarching tone of the report is its insistence that austerity must be imposed at all costs and even further cuts imposed.

The IMF’s report follows the agreement made between the “troika” and the coalition government of New Democracy, PASOK and the Democratic Left last month. In exchange for Greece receiving a further €2.8 billion loan to prevent it from defaulting on its overall debt of more than €300 billion, the troika and government agreed on 15,500 public sector job losses (towards a total of 150,000), further cuts in the minimum wage and the extension of the hated Property Tax.

The purpose of the IMF’s “Concluding Statement” was to rubber-stamp this devastating round of savagery against the Greek population and to put the government on notice that far more is required.

It states, “Greece is making progress in overcoming deep-seated problems in the midst of a very serious and socially painful recession,” adding, “Progress on fiscal adjustment has been exceptional by any international comparison, with the primary balance set to have cumulatively improved by 10 percent of GDP by end-2013, amid a contraction in GDP of more than 20 percent.”

The IMF lauds the attacks on the conditions of the working class that have enabled this “progress”. It notes, “Far-reaching labour market reforms have helped to realign nominal wages and productivity at the enterprise level. We estimate that the competitiveness gap as measured by Unit Labour Costs (ULC) has been reduced by close to two-thirds since 2010.”

The report notes that

This article originally appeared on : World Socialist Web Site