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BoG chief: Completing program review a matter of ‘common sense’

Concluding Greece’s second program review is a matter of “common sense” and the country must not miss this opportunity, Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras said during a briefing of the parliament’s finance committee on Monday.

“We have achieved the largest part of the [economic] adjustment and it is a matter of common sense to close this agreement. The Greek economy has shown strong resistance during the crisis. The sacrifices which have been made are too big. We’re too close to exiting the crisis. We must not lose this opportunity as, I’m sorry to say, we missed in the past,” he told lawmakers. 
Asked who is to blame for the delay in the completion of the review, the central banker said all sides share a part of the responsibility. 
“It may be a tactic, but it is in our power to refute it. And I say this because we have a lot of experience now. We have been negotiating since 2010. Of course, BoG’s choice is to make the agreement now, which is a much better scenario than all the others. It will be good for the economy to close [the review] now. Unfortunately we do not have time, because we are very close to the German, Dutch and French elections. A few months later, things will be worse,” he said. 
Commenting on the creditors demand for a lower tax-free threshold, he said this can be implemented through rationalization and a tiered system. Stournaras also said he wasn’t opposed to the idea of legislating measures in advance, noting the 3.5 percent primary surplus target can be achieved, on condition that a reverse mechanism will be put in place to abolish austerity measures when the country achieves its goals.