Once again – for the last time, let us hope – Greece’s prospects are being decided in backroom meetings on the sidelines of the IMF meeting in Washington.
Athens may not top the agenda any longer, but the contacts between European officials and the Fund will largely determine the way in which the bailout memorandum will be completed and how the national debt will be handled.
It is apparent from IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s statements, and from those of European officials, that everyone is looking forward to the next day, but nobody is setting out a position on the manner of supervision of the Greek economy and on debt relief arrangements.
Especially the IMF – the presence of which will be a decisive factor in the next phase – is shaking off its responsibilities for a litany of budget cuts, as Ms Lagarde says she has not requested additional public spending cuts. Yet, she is leaving open the prospect of the IMF staying on in the post-memorandum period.
It is indicative that Eurogroup president Mario Centeno said that Greece is in an improved position, but must assume ownership of a comprehensive economic growth model.
Everyone now realises that the country’s big problem is its responsibility and continuity in implementing reforms.
The choices of the government and the political system will determine the course of the economy and of society in the post-bailout era.
Doubts about the government’s sense of responsibility and effectiveness until now have led to harsher measures than we could endure, and will likely determine the breadth of supervision the next day, after the programme is completed.