The Minister of Finances Gikas Hardouvelis appeared before the Financial Affairs Committee in Parliament on Thursday to report on the progress of negotiations with the troika and the goals of the 2015 budget.

Mr. Hardouvelis estimated that despite the difficulties “the country would not fall back into uncertainty” and stressed that while the negotiations were hard, “there has been significant progress, there is an agreement on a series of issues”. The “national goal”, according to Mr. Hardouvelis is to complete the negotiations in order to enter a new era with greater prospects and fewer burdens.

Regarding the 2015 budget, Mr. Hardouvelis argued that tax rates would “gradually” be reduced and expressed the hope that the banks would “return to their primary role, which is funding the economy”. He also committed to achieving the goals of 9.6 billion euros revenue from privatizations by the end of 2016.

On the sidelines of the committee session in Parliament, Mr. Hardouvelis chatted with various New Democracy MPs, where he revealed how hard and uncompromising the IMF was in the Paris talks. The IMF is said to have claimed that it does not care who is in charge or whether there would be elections in March, that all it cares about are the numbers and goals.

The Ministry of Finances later issued a statement to clarify Mr. Hardouvelis’ comments, that no reference was made to early elections and that the IMF appeared indifferent to the political climate in Greece.