The clock is ticking on Greece’s next IMF repayment, some 460 million euros, and whether it will break the bank or not. Thursday is crunch day, and yet the new government insists it will be business and usual.
The new Syriza team has stressed the importance of the state sustaining present expenses before cutting more, so there is no cash crisis.
“We have been ready for a while, the money for the IMF has been set aside, and so have the interest payments. We do not face the slightest problem of paying wages, pensions and social benefits,” says the head of the General Accounting Office and Alternate Minister of Finances Dimitris Mardas.
But the government owes many contractors money.
“The Greek government reassures lenders that there is no reason to worry. At the same time, thousands of employees live in agony, as their wages depend on payments from the state, says euronews’ Symela Touchtidou.
Holiday cheer is thin on the ground as wages remain unpaid, a factor economists say is a major drag on any economic recovery.
“There is high risk that we will not be able to pay Easter allowances for our employees. This is a period of accumulated obligations, we have to pay VAT, taxes, and social security,” says the Secretary General of Association of Greek Contracting Companies Dimitris Constantinidis.
With Greece’s foreign creditors having barged their way to the front of the queue everyone else is having to wait to get paid. This drains money away from a recovering economy that needs some consumer spending to help it.