Varoufakis: “Athens wants to stop imitating Sisyphus”

The Finance Minister argued it is not wise “selling off the family jewels” during a deflation crisis
Monday, February 02, 2015 published at

The Minister of Finances Yanis Varoufakis argued that the Athens “wants to stop imitating Sisyphus” in an interview published in Le Monde. Mr. Varoufakis noted that the correct strategy for Sisyphus is to stop pushing his boulder, rather than trying to get up the hill, in reference to the payment of the Greek public debt. He explains that Greece was given huge loans to pay off its debts while expected to reduce its expenses.

The Finance Minister assured that the government is determined to cooperate with its partners, avoiding unilateral decisions, but argued that a “reboot” of the program is necessary as it was based on a flawed logic. Mr. Varoufakis conceded that the two major faults of previous governments were constantly taking out loans without any consideration for the future and the lack of reforms.

When pressed to answer how the Greek government intends to cover treasury bills that will soon mature, Mr. Varoufakis was vague in his response and stated that he intends to negotiate a sustainable plan for lending. The implementation of such a plan for a few months is possible, so that the government can prepare its reform proposals and enter meaningful discussion with its partners to put an end to the crisis.

Regarding the new government’s decision to halt privatizations, the Finance Minster stated that it is not smart to sell off the family jewels during a deflation crisis and stressed that it is wiser to develop and take advantage of the State’s assets, in order to further support the economy. He noted though that it is not wise to repeal privatizations that have been carried out, such as COSCO’s involvement in Piraeus.

Mr. Varoufakis added that the new Greek government considers foreign investments, particularly from China, to be a major source for the improvement of existing structures and to support Greece’s competitiveness. The Minister also repeated the government’s assurances that foreign investors considering Greece will find an “open mind”.

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