In a dramatic start to his tenure in office, Greece’s new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has begun unpicking the deeply unpopular austerity policies underpinning the debt-stricken country’s bailout programme.
After storming to power on Sunday, the leftwinger said there was no time to waste. “We will continue with our plan,” he told his first cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “We don’t have the right to disappoint our voters.”
The government’s top priority would be to tackle the “humanitarian crisis” – the result of five years of punitive belt-tightening measures – but also open negotiations over Greece’s unsustainable debt, at €320bn (£239bn) the largest in Europe.
“We won’t get into a mutually destructive clash, but we will not continue a policy of subjection,” said Tsipras, who at 40 is Greece’s youngest postwar leader.
Catapulted into office for the first time, Syriza – in power with the small, rightwing Independent Greeks party after falling two seats short of an overall majority in the 300-seat house – set about acting on its pledges before the cabinet meeting even began.
Earlier, the energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, called a halt to the privatisation programme that the EU and IMF have demanded in exchange for the €240bn in aid keeping Greece afloat. Plans to sell off the country’s dominant power corporation, PPC, were to be frozen with immediate effect.
“We will immediately stop any privatisation of PPC,” said the politician, who heads Syriza’s militant Left Platform. Plans to privatise the port of Pireaus, the country’s largest docks, were also put on hold. China’s giant consortium, Cosco, and four other suitors had been vying for a 67% stake in the port authority, agreed in consultation with creditors by Greece’s previous conservative-led coalition government. “The Cosco deal will be reviewed to the benefit of the Greek people,” Thodoris Dritsas, the deputy minister in charge of shipping, told Reuters.
via The Guardian