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March 28, 2023

Largarde to Greece: It’s payback time!

The International Monetary Fund has ratcheted up the pressure on crisis-hit Greece after its managing director, Christine Lagarde, said in an interview for the Guardian she has more sympathy for children deprived of decent schooling in sub-Saharan Africa than for many of those facing poverty in Athens, according to Mediafax. Lagarde insists it is payback time for Greece and makes it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the terms of the country’s austerity package. Using some of the bluntest language of the two-and-a-half-year debt crisis, she says Greek parents have to take responsibility if their children are being affected by spending cuts. “Parents have to pay their tax,” she says.Greece, which has seen its economy shrink by a fifth since the recession began, has been told to cut wages, pensions and public spending in return for financial help from the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank. Lagarde is predicting that the debt crisis has yet to run its course. “I think they should also help themselves collectively.” Asked how, she replies: “By all paying their tax.”The intervention by Lagarde comes after the caretaker Greek government met to discuss a sharp fall in tax revenues – down by a third in a year. Under the terms of the country’s bailout, Athens has agreed to improve Greece’s poor record for tax collection in order to reduce its budget deficit, and Lagarde’s remarks are evidence of a growing impatience in the international community. In his turn, Greece’s socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos said an election rally:  “Nobody can humiliate the Greek people during the crisis, and I say this today addressing specifically Ms. Lagarde… who with her stance insulted the Greek people”.

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