What impact will Athens' new austerity package have?
The Greek parliament has approved a series of cutbacks and tax hikes in order to secure the release of fresh loans from the country's creditors. The measures also include an automatic debt brake and a privatisation fund that will administer and sell state property. The last measure in particular is a source of heated debate in the Greek media.
Privatisation fund could be good for Greece
The supervisory board of the new privatisation fund consists of five members, two of whom represent Greece's creditors. Despite this external influence Protagon sees the institution as offering certain advantages:
“Should the property of the state be left at the mercy of the ministers, party leaders and public officials? Are unsuccessful politicians the right people to manage our national resources or should we give up this recipe for failure even if it means humiliation? Okay, so the privatisation fund will create a parallel state. That's not necessarily a bad thing. On the one hand we face the loss of national control, on the other this could generate interesting development prospects. Anything that is different to what we have seen so far is a source of development.”
Parliament just decoration now
By agreeing to the debt brake that will come into force automatically if Greece does not attain its austerity targets the Greek parliament has disempowered itself, The Press Project comments:
“The finance minister will only have a vague advisory role, while parliament will at best be able to advise as well, and at worst will only play a decorative role. ... These new measures have a direct influence on the citizens' ability to decide, determine and control their future. ... Someone once said that 'democracy has no dead ends'. This is not an illusion. History is full of examples of nations that have fought and won. The sad truth, however, is that Greek society is asleep, or rather it has closed its eyes and is hoping the whole thing is just a bad dream that will be over when morning comes.”
At last an effective austerity programme
The new measures make sense even if they do disempower the government, Proto Thema believes:
“The first positive development is that the myth of the left is being dispelled and populism has been dealt a hard blow. ... The second is that the automatic debt brake and the privatisation fund are tools that can bring growth if used judiciously. ... Yes, the government's sovereignty will be curtailed, but these measures can be effective. They will limit the spending of the huge public sector and allow state property to be put to use with the involvement of private investors. Certainly, these measures smack of liberalism and lack dignity, but they will no doubt be effective for a country with politicians like ours.”
What the people want no longer matters
The Greeks can't expect their political leaders to find a way out of the crisis, the left-wing daily Duma complains:
“Neither the conservatives nor the socialists managed to get the situation under control. They took the path of austerity and the Greeks didn't like it. So they elected Syriza because Tsipras promised them a way out of the crisis without further reducing their already decimated prosperity. That didn't work out either. … The Greek 'oxi' will go down in history as a referendum without consequences. Tsipras remains in power, but without making any big promises. Naturally Athens will submit to its creditors without putting up a fight, but the latter know that they can't demand the impossible from Greece.”