ATHENS (TIP) : After all the brinkmanship, including holding of a referendum, Greece has finally agreed to the conditional bailout package offered to it, thus averting an exit from the eurozone and setting a precedent for other countries.
It took 17 hours of marathon talks between the European Council and Greece to hammer out a third bailout worth $95 billion under the European Stability Mechanism. If the talks had been unsuccessful and a Grexit could not have been avoided, it could have led to a precedent for a similar exit by Spain, Italy or Portugal to knock down the very idea of a stable and economically stable Europe.
The bailout has, however, bound Greece to initiate economic reforms including increase in taxes and restructuring of its pension scheme. The banks in Greece, which are nearly insolvent, were ordered to close over a fortnight ago and are likely to re-open within a week. If the talks a failed, the country would have slipped into a dark abyss and could have had international ramifications.
Even as the deal has been done, the tougher part of its implementation remains. Greek Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras was forced to accept an austerity package which was worse than what he had rejected some time ago. Its implementation would be a tough task for him. He will have to sell the austerity package to his party as well as to the opposition in order to revive its economy which is in complete mess.
The agreement which helped avert a tragedy makes it mandatory for Greece to initiate measures including simplifying VAT rates, impose more taxes and cutback pensions. It is also supposed to request continued IMF support from March 2016. It also needs to cut cost of administration, ensure creditor approval for key legislation, go in for privatization, involving transfer of assets to the independent fund designed to raise 50 billions euros. The country is to set a clear time table for pensions reforms, privatizing electricity network and strengthening financial sector including action on non performing loans.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker later said that “in this compromise there are no winners and no losers…..it is a typical european arrangement”.
The lesson for other governments clearly is to set their own house in order and set in economic reforms rather than go in for populist measures.