Greek PM vows not to repeat past economic mistakes

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed Tuesday not to repeat the "mistakes and behaviour of the past" that led his country to the brink of financial collapse.

Tsipras told the European Parliament that Greece would "continue our path of fiscal stability", after pledging to voters at the weekend to cut taxes and boost spending to kickstart the economy.

Greece endured eight years of austerity under three successive international bailouts -- worth a total of 289 billion euros ($330 billion) -- put together in 2010, 2012 and 2015 to save the country from collapsing under its debt mountain.

The third programme ended last month and Tsipras has pledged to lead Greece's "rebirth" by cutting property and sales tax, boosting the income of hundreds farmers and middle-class Greeks and rethinking a pension cut agreed with creditors earlier this year.

But in an address to members of the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, Tsipras insisted there would be no return to the "waste and corruption" that had led Greece to bankruptcy, saying there would be a "historic break with the past, it is a new beginning".

"Our exit from the last programme of fiscal adjustment does not mean that we will go back to the past in our country -- quite the contrary. We are determined to avoid the mistakes and the behaviour of the past that led to the crisis," Tsipras said.

The economic reforms demanded by Greece's creditors had a major impact, reducing gross domestic product (GDP) by a quarter over eight years and sending unemployment soaring to more than 27 percent.

Greece is committed to a primary budget surplus -- not counting debt repayments -- of 3.5 percent of GDP through 2022, and 2.2 percent through 2060, with average economic growth of three percent a year.

Tsipras, who leads the leftwing Syriza party, also warned MEPs against the rise of "chauvinism and rightwing populism", saying the management of the global financial crisis had in some cases fed the growth of extremist parties.


© 2018 AFP

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