However, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras surprised the country and creditors last week with handouts that his government had not previously discussed – Tsipras pledged 1.6 million pensioners a Christmas bonus of between €300 and €800 and suspended a planned increase in sales tax for Aegean islands. The handouts come as Greece’s government is considering a snap election in 2017.
“In order to turn the bailout program into a success, it is imperative that measures should not be unilaterally decided or reversed without notice,” Germany’s finance ministry said in response to the unexpected new spending.
Greece has registered a primary budget surplus of €7.4 billion in the year ended November, or nearly €4 billion over its target due to lower spending and higher revenues. The IMF has pressured Europe to cut Greece’s budget target to a primary surplus of 1.5% of gross domestic product instead of its current goal of 3.5%.
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