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Varoufakis says Greece committed to reforms, rules out more austerity

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Greece is committed to liberalising its economy, reforming its pension system and running a reasonable primary budget surplus, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote on Tuesday.

[MILAN] Greece is committed to liberalising its economy, reforming its pension system and running a reasonable primary budget surplus, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote on Tuesday.

But it cannot meet requests from its creditors to adopt further austerity measures this year and beyond as this would cripple its ability to carry out the needed reforms, he wrote in an opinion piece in Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, Shut out of bond markets and with bailout payments suspended, Greece intends to make good on its debt obligations but urgently needs more aid to be able to do so, the government said on Monday.

It must repay four loans totalling 1.6 billion euros (S$2.4 billion) to the International Monetary Fund next month.

Mr Varoufakis said Athens was prepared to implement a series of reforms. "What are we talking about? Of an independent tax agency, of keeping forever a reasonable primary surplus, of a sensible and ambitious privatisation programme... of a true reform of the pension system ...of liberalisations of markets for goods and services etc," he wrote.

But it would not be able to attain those goals if it tried to reach the "unbearably high" primary surplus targets demanded by the country's creditors. "Our government cannot accept - and will not accept - a cure that, over a five-year period, has proved worse than the disease," the finance minister wrote.

REUTERS