Auditando Grecia

28.06.2015 Redacción Madrid
Auditando Grecia

¿Hay salida en el laberinto de la deuda?. Ésta es la pregunta a la que tratarán de responder distintos especialistas, de diferentes países, el próximo 2 de julio, a las 19 horas, en el Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid.

Es un acto más de apoyo al pueblo griego y la preocupante situación por la que está pasando, ante la presión de la Comisión Europea, el Banco Centra Europeo y el Fondo Monetario Internacional, para que acepte mayores recortes sociales a cambio de seguir negociando la deuda.

Estas medidas no han sido aceptadas por el gobierno Heleno, quien ha convocado para el domingo 5 de julio un referendum, en el cual el pueblo griego decidirá si acepta las condiciones indignas que le son impuestas desde Bruselas o dirá no, teniendo que salir supuestamente de la zona euro y asumiendo un futuro incierto.

Pero la Comisión Europea después de lanzar un órdago al gobierno griego, hoy domingo ha vuelto a invitar a sentarse a Tsipras, y sigue buscando soluciones ya que tiene muchos intereses en juego.

 

https://www.pressenza.com/es/2015/06/auditando-a-grecia/

Executive Summary of the report from the Debt Truth Committee

Προκαταρκτική Έκθεση της Επιτροπής Αλήθειας Δημοσίου Χρέους, 17 Ιουνίου, 201517 June by Greek  Debt Truth Committee

In June 2015 Greece stands at a crossroad of choosing between furthering the failed macroeconomic adjustment programmes imposed by the creditors or making a real change to break the chains of debt. Five years since the economic adjustment programmes began, the country remains deeply cemented in an economic, social, democratic and ecological crisis. The black box of debt has remained closed, and until now no authority, Greek or international, has sought to bring to light the truth about how and why Greece was subjected to the Troika regime. The debt, in whose name nothing has been spared, remains the rule through which neoliberal adjustment is imposed, and the deepest and longest recession experienced in Europe during peacetime.

There is an immediate need and social responsibility to address a range of legal, social and economic issues that demand proper consideration. In response, the Hellenic Parliament established the Truth Committee on Public Debt in April 2015, mandating the investigation into the creation and growth of public debt, the way and reasons for which debt was contracted, and the impact that the conditionalities attached to the loans have had on the economy and the population. The Truth Committee has a mandate to raise awareness of issues pertaining to the Greek debt, both domestically and internationally, and to formulate arguments and options concerning the cancellation of the debt.

The research of the Committee presented in this preliminary report sheds light on the fact that the entire adjustment programme, to which Greece has been subjugated, was and remains a politically orientated programme. The technical exercise surrounding macroeconomic variables and debt projections, figures directly relating to people’s lives and livelihoods, has enabled discussions around the debt to remain at a technical level mainly revolving around the argument that the policies imposed on Greece will improve its capacity to pay the debt back. The facts presented in this report challenge this argument.

All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.

It has also come to the understanding of the Committee that the unsustainability of the Greek public debt was evident from the outset to the international creditors, the Greek authorities, and the corporate media. Yet, the Greek authorities, together with some other governments in the EU, conspired against the restructuring of public debt in 2010 in order to protect financial institutions. The corporate media hid the truth from the public by depicting a situation in which the bailout was argued to benefit Greece, whilst spinning a narrative intended to portray the population as deservers of their own wrongdoings.

Bailout funds provided in both programmes of 2010 and 2012 have been externally managed through complicated schemes, preventing any fiscal autonomy. The use of the bailout money is strictly dictated by the creditors, and so, it is revealing that less than 10% of these funds have been destined to the government’s current expenditure.

This preliminary report presents a primary mapping out of the key problems and issues associated with the public debt, and notes key legal violations associated with the contracting of the debt; it also traces out the legal foundations, on which unilateral suspension of the debt payments can be based. The findings are presented in nine chapters structured as follows:


Chapter 1, Debt before the Troika
, analyses the growth of the Greek public debt since the 1980s. It concludes that the increase in debt was not due to excessive public spending, which in fact remained lower than the public spending of other Eurozone countries, but rather due to the payment of extremely high rates of interest to creditors, excessive and unjustified military spending, loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows, state recapitalization of private banks, and the international imbalances created via the flaws in the design of the Monetary Union itself.

Adopting the euro led to a drastic increase of private debt in Greece to which major European private banks as well as the Greek banks were exposed. A growing banking crisis contributed to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. George Papandreou’s government helped to present the elements of a banking crisis as a sovereign debt crisis in 2009 by emphasizing and boosting the public deficit and debt.


Chapter 2, Evolution of Greek public debt during 2010-2015
, concludes that the first loan agreement of 2010, aimed primarily to rescue the Greek and other European private banks, and to allow the banks to reduce their exposure to Greek government bonds.


Chapter 3, Greek public debt by creditor in 2015
, presents the contentious nature of Greece’s current debt, delineating the loans’ key characteristics, which are further analysed in Chapter 8.


Chapter 4, Debt System Mechanism in Greece
reveals the mechanisms devised by the agreements that were implemented since May 2010. They created a substantial amount of new debt to bilateral creditors and the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), whilst generating abusive costs thus deepening the crisis further. The mechanisms disclose how the majority of borrowed funds were transferred directly to financial institutions. Rather than benefitting Greece, they have accelerated the privatization process, through the use of financial instruments.


Chapter 5, Conditionalities against sustainability
, presents how the creditors imposed intrusive conditionalities attached to the loan agreements, which led directly to the economic unviability and unsustainability of debt. These conditionalities, on which the creditors still insist, have not only contributed to lower GDP as well as higher public borrowing, hence a higher public debt/GDP making Greece’s debt more unsustainable, but also engineered dramatic changes in the society, and caused a humanitarian crisis. The Greek public debt can be considered as totally unsustainable at present.


Chapter 6, Impact of the “bailout programmes” on human rights
, concludes that the measures implemented under the “bailout programmes” have directly affected living conditions of the people and violated human rights, which Greece and its partners are obliged to respect, protect and promote under domestic, regional and international law. The drastic adjustments, imposed on the Greek economy and society as a whole, have brought about a rapid deterioration of living standards, and remain incompatible with social justice, social cohesion, democracy and human rights.


Chapter 7, Legal issues surrounding the MOU and Loan Agreements
, argues there has been a breach of human rights obligations on the part of Greece itself and the lenders, that is the Euro Area (Lender) Member States, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, who imposed these measures on Greece. All these actors failed to assess the human rights violations as an outcome of the policies they obliged Greece to pursue, and also directly violated the Greek constitution by effectively stripping Greece of most of its sovereign rights. The agreements contain abusive clauses, effectively coercing Greece to surrender significant aspects of its sovereignty. This is imprinted in the choice of the English law as governing law for those agreements, which facilitated the circumvention of the Greek Constitution and international human rights obligations. Conflicts with human rights and customary obligations, several indications of contracting parties acting in bad faith, which together with the unconscionable character of the agreements, render these agreements invalid.


Chapter 8, Assessment of the Debts as regards illegtimacy, odiousness, illegality, and unsustainability
, provides an assessment of the Greek public debt according to the definitions regarding illegitimate, odious, illegal, and unsustainable debt adopted by the Committee.

Chapter 8 concludes that the Greek public debt as of June 2015 is unsustainable, since Greece is currently unable to service its debt without seriously impairing its capacity to fulfill its basic human rights obligations. Furthermore, for each creditor, the report provides evidence of indicative cases of illegal, illegitimate and odious debts.


Debt to the IMF
should be considered illegal since its concession breached the IMF’s own statutes, and its conditions breached the Greek Constitution, international customary law, and treaties to which Greece is a party. It is also illegitimate, since conditions included policy prescriptions that infringed human rights obligations. Finally, it is odious since the IMF knew that the imposed measures were undemocratic, ineffective, and would lead to serious violations of socio-economic rights.


Debts to the ECB
should be considered illegal since the ECB over-stepped its mandate by imposing the application of macroeconomic adjustment programs (e.g. labour market deregulation) via its participation in the Troïka. Debts to the ECB are also illegitimate and odious, since the principal raison d’etre of the Securities Market Programme (SMP) was to serve the interests of the financial institutions, allowing the major European and Greek private banks to dispose of their Greek bonds.


The EFSF engages in cash-less loans which should be considered illegal
because Article 122(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) was violated, and further they breach several socio-economic rights and civil liberties. Moreover, the EFSF Framework Agreement 2010 and the Master Financial Assistance Agreement of 2012 contain several abusive clauses revealing clear misconduct on the part of the lender. The EFSF also acts against democratic principles, rendering these particular debts illegitimate and odious.


The bilateral loans
should be considered illegal since they violate the procedure provided by the Greek constitution. The loans involved clear misconduct by the lenders, and had conditions that contravened law or public policy. Both EU law and international law were breached in order to sideline human rights in the design of the macroeconomic programmes. The bilateral loans are furthermore illegitimate, since they were not used for the benefit of the population, but merely enabled the private creditors of Greece to be bailed out. Finally, the bilateral loans are odious since the lender states and the European Commission knew of potential violations, but in 2010 and 2012 avoided to assess the human rights impacts of the macroeconomic adjustment and fiscal consolidation that were the conditions for the loans.


The debt to private creditors
should be considered illegal because private banks conducted themselves irresponsibly before the Troika came into being, failing to observe due diligence, while some private creditors such as hedge funds also acted in bad faith. Parts of the debts to private banks and hedge funds are illegitimate for the same reasons that they are illegal; furthermore, Greek banks were illegitimately recapitalized by tax-payers. Debts to private banks and hedge funds are odious, since major private creditors were aware that these debts were not incurred in the best interests of the population but rather for their own benefit.
The report comes to a close with some practical considerations. Chapter 9, Legal foundations for repudiation and suspension of the Greek sovereign debt, presents the options concerning the cancellation of debt, and especially the conditions under which a sovereign state can exercise the right to unilateral act of repudiation or suspension of the payment of debt under international law.

Several legal arguments permit a State to unilaterally repudiate its illegal, odious, and illegitimate debt. In the Greek case, such a unilateral act may be based on the following arguments: the bad faith of the creditors that pushed Greece to violate national law and international obligations related to human rights; preeminence of human rights over agreements such as those signed by previous governments with creditors or the Troika; coercion; unfair terms flagrantly violating Greek sovereignty and violating the Constitution; and finally, the right recognized in international law for a State to take countermeasures against illegal acts by its creditors , which purposefully damage its fiscal sovereignty, oblige it to assume odious, illegal and illegitimate debt, violate economic self-determination and fundamental human rights. As far as unsustainable debt is concerned, every state is legally entitled to invoke necessity in exceptional situations in order to safeguard those essential interests threatened by a grave and imminent peril. In such a situation, the State may be dispensed from the fulfilment of those international obligations that augment the peril, as is the case with outstanding loan contracts. Finally, states have the right to declare themselves unilaterally insolvent where the servicing of their debt is unsustainable, in which case they commit no wrongful act and hence bear no liability.


People’s dignity is worth more than illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable debt

Having concluded a preliminary investigation, the Committee considers that Greece has been and still is the victim of an attack premeditated and organized by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. This violent, illegal, and immoral mission aimed exclusively at shifting private debt onto the public sector.

Making this preliminary report available to the Greek authorities and the Greek people, the Committee considers to have fulfilled the first part of its mission as defined in the decision of the President of Parliament of 4 April 2015. The Committee hopes that the report will be a useful tool for those who want to exit the destructive logic of austerity and stand up for what is endangered today: human rights, democracy, peoples’ dignity, and the future of generations to come.

In response to those who impose unjust measures, the Greek people might invoke what Thucydides mentioned about the constitution of the Athenian people: “As for the name, it is called a democracy, for the administration is run with a view to the interests of the many, not of the few” (Pericles’ Funeral Oration, in the speech from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War).

Public Hearing of Mr. Panagiotis Roumeliotis, former representative of Greece at the IMF

Public Hearing of Mr. Panagiotis Roumeliotis, former representative of Greece at the IMF

The Hellenic Parliament’s Debt Truth Committee Public Hearings continued today, Monday 15 June 2015 at 14:00 pm, at the Senate Hall of the Parliament, with the hearing of Mr. Panagiotis Roumeliotis, former representative of Greece to the IMF.

On 17th and 18th of June 2015 the preliminary conclusions of the Debt Truth Committee, which conducts an audit of the Debt by investigating its legality, will be published.

Greek crisis: Human rights should not stop at doors of international institutions, says UN expert

 Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky

GENEVA (2 June 2015) – The United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, has urged European institutions, the International Monetary Fund and Greece to show courage and reach a deal on the Greek debt crisis that respects human rights. In a statement, Mr. Bohoslavsky stressed that human rights should not stop at the doors of international organizations and international financial institutions:

If there is no compromise, Greece may sooner or later default, making the crisis in Greece even worse. Economic and social rights could be further undermined in Greece by lack of flexibility and courage to find a mutually benefitting deal that respects human rights.

At stake are not only debt repayment obligations, but as well the very foundations on which the European Union is built: a union of nations that has respect for human rights, human dignity, equality and solidarity at its core.

The harsh conditionalities of the Greek adjustment programme have resulted in severe cut-backs in social spending, health care and education, raising concerns about the ability of the Greek government to ensure basic economic and social rights. The austerity and reform policies implemented since 2010 have so far not been able to bring Greece back on track. They have rather deepened the social crisis in Greece, and clearly not stimulated the national economy to the benefit of the Greek population.

Unemployment has remained at 25 percent, affecting disproportionately women and young jobseekers. According to latest available data, one out of two young adults is jobless. The number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion has increased to 35.7 per cent, the highest percentage in the Eurozone. In essence many human rights issues identified by my predecessor during his visit to Greece two years ago have remained if not worsened.

I welcome that the Greek Parliament established a debt audit commission. It is necessary to shed light on who benefited, and to what extent, from the reckless lending and borrowing and from the bail outs, and who is responsible for the current financial situation.

In April 2015, a law was passed to provide some relief for persons living in extreme poverty, including housing allowances, food coupons and restoring limited access to electricity; yet it is an initiative that does not go far enough. A more holistic approach to address economic and social rights issues in Greece is necessary. Priority should be given to use limited available resources to bolster the real economy and close holes in the social security net and in the system of public health care. A comprehensive job creation programme should be considered.

The burden of adjustment must be shared in a fair manner, compliant with the obligations Greece and creditor States have assumed under the International Covenant of Social and Economic Rights, the European Social Charter and other international human rights standards. This should include tax measures to support social transfers to mitigate inequalities, combatting tax evasion, establishing a tax on abroad financial assets of Greek residents and increasing taxes for luxury goods and highly valuable real estate. It also means implementing necessary institutional reforms in order to prevent over-borrowing.

At a regional level, EU capital requirements directives need to be improved in order to avoid over-lending. And the “no bail out clause” of the Lisbon Treaty would function best in combination with a human rights based sovereign insolvency mechanism.

Public debt is predicted to reach this year 180 per cent of GDP, indicating that the past debt relief was insufficient to ensure long term debt sustainability. This relation was about 120 per cent when the crisis started. It is perhaps time to acknowledge that further debt relief will sooner or later be necessary, instead of Greece remaining over several decades in an economically and politically unhealthy dependence on creditor institutions.

Human rights should not stop at the doors of international organizations and international financial institutions. They have to be respected when responsibilities are delegated by States to international bodies, such as the European Stability Mechanism.

I welcome that the European Parliament has published a comprehensive study on the impact of the financial crisis on fundamental rights, and recently passed a resolution stressing that sustainable debt solutions, including standards for responsible lending and borrowing, must be facilitated through a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes. The same resolution called upon the EU to engage constructively in the UN negotiations on this framework.

I hope European institutions and governments will act accordingly and also draw the necessary consequences for adjustment policies implemented within the EU.

I am looking forward to visiting Greece in the near future to receive updates about the situation on the ground and have also requested official meetings with relevant European institutions.

We need to find better solutions to prevent economic reform policies undermining the enjoyment of human rights. This is not an easy task, but feasible, as Iceland’s response to its banking crisis has shown.

(*) See the report of my predecessor, Cephas Lumina, on his visit to Greece, www.undocs.org/A/HRC/25/50/Add.1

ENDS

Mr. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (Argentina) was appointed as Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights by the UN Human Rights Council on 8 May 2014. Before, he worked as a Sovereign Debt Expert for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where he coordinated an Expert Group on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Deve…

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/…

Why it would be good for the IMF if Greece stopped repaying the IMF loans

27 May by Bodo Ellmers

The creditor community has another shock and awe moment this week, as more and more influential actors argue that Greece should stop repaying the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans and rather use scarce public resources to tackle its economic and humanitarian crisis. While Prime Minister Tsipras still tries to ease the creditors, the idea is here to stay. And it is a good one: Greece should not just postpone loan repayments but default on them – stopping payments to the IMF for good. This would help to finally reform the IMF from the political puppet that it is now into a real and effective crisis response instrument.

Risk-free lending can quickly become irresponsible lending

Whoever loses in a debt crisis – and usually there are many losers – the IMF is always off the hook. It is common practice that borrowers grant preferred creditor status to the IMF, and pay off the IMF loans in full and in a timely manner. While it isn’t written down anywhere in international law that there’s such a thing as an IMF preferred creditor status – not even in the IMF’s own Articles of Agreements – all countries traditionally stick to this practice. This even goes for countries such as Argentina, which have been branded recalcitrant debtors by US judges and have no intention of maintaining good relations with the IMF.

Repaying the IMF often comes at high opportunity costs for borrower countries’ development, and for the other creditors who do have to take a haircut, and a larger one if the IMF does not participate in a debt restructuring. The fact that everyone’s repaying the IMF means that lending is essentially risk-free for them. And as in all other cases when lending is considered risk-free, the lender is encouraged to act irresponsibly, and to do really stupid things.

IMF’s track record is disastrous

Just one of these things has been the IMF’s participation in the Troika bailout operations to the benefit of Greek’s private creditors, which started in 2010. It was clear from the start that Greece was insolvent, that the bailout loans were not going to put the country back on a debt sustainability track, but that they would just refinance payments to private creditors who would leave the country. It was also clear that Greece would never be able to repay the bail-out loans, as these measures did not solve or even begin to address the insolvency problem, but simply changed the creditor structure from bondholders to Troika. Ninety percent of the loans went straight to creditors. Actually, the IMF’s own rules of the game forbade such stupidity, as they require a country with an unsustainable debt burden to restructure and reduce its private debt burden first, before it can access IMF loans.

However, some of the IMF’s ‘major shareholders’ were interested in the bail out of their own banks and investors who had lent recklessly and were overexposed in Greece. As a result, the IMF Executive Board quickly passed the ‘systemic exemption clause’, which legalised the bailout loans to Greece, in spite of the fact that these loans violated the rule that the IMF cannot lend into a clear situation of unsustainable debt (i.e. to an insolvent state).

Support from IMF’s management was not hard to get, as then Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was still considering running for the French presidency, and French banks were the number one profiteer of the bailout operation among the foreign banks. As German and British banks were second and third on the bailout list, the coalition of ‘major shareholders’ in favour of a bailout was quickly growing strong enough to overcome resistance by more prudent voices.

Safeguards against political hijacking badly needed

This Greek tragedy is just one of many irresponsible lending cases that the IMF has had to conduct due to political pressure by the ‘major shareholders’, which tend to hijack this international institution with its nearly universal membership of 188countries for their vested economic and geostrategic interests. Earlier examples include IMF support for pro-Western military dictatorships all over the world. A more recent example is the generous IMF lending to belligerent Ukraine, which is clearly beyond any debt sustainability considerations.

Often it is the smaller IMF members that try to prevent the IMF from engaging in irresponsible lending operations. Paulo Batista, for instance, who represents Brazil and other Latin American countries at the IMF argued that the Fund “gave money to save German and French banks, not Greece … [and] put too much of a burden on Greece and not enough of a burden on Greece’s creditors”. Their position is weak, however. On the one hand because the IMF’s “one dollar – one vote” voting-system gives small economies little influence. But also because, under the current system, the IMF always gets its money back. No matter how irresponsible the lending act was in the first place, third parties are still paying the price. So it is all too easy to convince the IMF’s Board to sign off on politically-motivated lending operations that make no sense from an economic point of view.

IMF reform: from political puppet to crisis management tool

The most effective way to prevent irresponsible lending is to make clear to lenders that they won’t see their money back if they lend irresponsibly. This is why Greece should default on the IMF loans and force the IMF to write them off. This would substantially strengthen the more prudent voices in the IMF decision-making processes.

Only introducing a default-risk can turn the IMF into a responsible lending institution. Only bailing-in the IMF in sovereign debt restructurings when these are needed can ensure that IMF resources are not used in future to bail out private creditors. Greece now has the chance to trigger an overdue IMF reform process, or better an accountability process: This is to make the IMF stick to its core business, to refrain from political lending on behalf of ‘major shareholders’, and to provide emergency liquidity to countries in exceptional situations of liquidity squeeze, according to clear and just rules.

Of course, great powers will continue to engage in political and geostrategic lending, even if they can’t continue to instrumentalise the IMF for it. And in any case, someone will need to replenish the IMF for losses incurred through past irresponsible lending operations. However, paraphrasing Yanis Varoufakis, the wider IMF membership might want to stick two fingers up at the ‘major shareholders’ and tell them: you now solve these problems by yourselves.

Source: http://www.eurodad.org/GreeceandIMFloans

Éric Toussaint : « D’autres pays que la Grèce ont une dette illégitime »

24 mai par Eric Toussaint , Gaël De Santis

Forum européen des alternatives. Éric Toussaint est président du Comité pour l’annulation de la dette du Tiers-monde. Il conduit, pour le compte du gouvernement Syriza, un audit sur la dette grecque.

Pensez-vous qu’un audit citoyen de la dette, tel que vous l’a commandé le gouvernement Syriza en Grèce, devrait être mené dans l’ensemble de l’Europe ?

Éric Toussaint Il est fondamental de réaliser, à partir des gouvernements progressistes quand c’est possible, ou à partir du pouvoir législatif, un audit de la dette pour déterminer quelle part est légitime, ou insoutenable, illégale, odieuse ou encore illégitime. On parle de dette illégitime quand elle a été contractée sans respect de l’intérêt général. En d’autres mots, quand elle a été accumulée en faveur d’une minorité de privilégiés. C’est le cas, par exemple, quand elle naît du sauvetage des banquiers privés, pourtant responsables de la crise. En France ou en Belgique, on peut parler d’illégitimité pour la dette issue des cadeaux fiscaux systématiques en faveur du 1 % des plus riches ou des grandes entreprises privées. En France, les entreprises du CAC 40 ne paient en moyenne que 8 % d’impôts sur leurs bénéfices. On peut considérer qu’il y a illégalité si la dette a été accumulée en violant la Constitution ou les lois du pays en question, comme pour la Grèce, où les dettes contractées auprès de la troïka l’ont été sans respecter la loi fondamentale selon laquelle le Parlement devait délibérer. La Grèce est un cas extrême. Elle cumule des dettes illégitimes, odieuses, insoutenables. Mais dans d’autres pays, il s’agit plutôt de dettes illégitimes et, dans certains cas, illégales. Pour assurer le sauvetage de la banque franco-belgo-luxembourgeoise Dexia, le gouvernement belge n’a pas respecté sa Constitution.
Comment voyez-vous le fait qu’un État s’adresse à des citoyens pour établir un audit ?

Éric Toussaint Parmi les citoyens, il y a des gens qui ont des connaissances très importantes en économie financière, en économie internationale, en audit des comptes publics, en droit international, en droit interne, en droit constitutionnel. Dans la société civile, il y a des compétences qui peuvent être réunies dans une commission car elles dépassent celles des institutions européennes telles que la Banque centrale européenne (BCE), les gouvernements européens, grec, ou même du Fonds monétaire international.


Quelles sont vos marges de manœuvre dans la conduite de votre enquête ?

Éric Toussaint Il existe des difficultés. Ce n’est pas parce qu’une organisation progressiste accède à un gouvernement qu’elle est en mesure de faire ouvrir toutes les portes. À la direction des administrations de l’État, il y a des personnes nommées par les exécutifs précédents. À la tête de la Banque de Grèce, on trouve par exemple Yannis Stournaras, ministre des Finances du gouvernement conservateur d’Antonis Samaras. Il n’est pas enthousiaste à l’idée d’ouvrir les comptes rendus des réunions conduites avec la BCE. Avant de quitter le ministère des Finances, désormais occupé par Yanis Varoufakis, il est parti avec toute la documentation. Il a éliminé de la mémoire des ordinateurs toute une série de traces des négociations. Nous allons demander à l’État d’exercer une pression pour qu’il y ait une transparence et l’ouverture d’une série de dossiers. Mais beaucoup de choses sont dans le domaine public. Il nous sera parfaitement possible d’établir un jugement fondé. Nous procéderons à des auditions et convoquerons l’ancien président de la Banque de France, Jean-Claude Trichet, l’ancien directeur du Fonds monétaire international, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Nous allons aussi entendre d’anciens ministres du gouvernement de Georges Papandréou qui reconnaissent désormais qu’ils ont participé aux manœuvres des créanciers européens en acceptant de se soumettre à des diktats, et qui le regrettent aujourd’hui.

La dette n’est pas mauvaise en soi. Y a-t-il des manières de financer la dette qui créent plus d’illégitimité que d’autres ?

Éric Toussaint Bien sûr. Une dette légitime permet de financer des projets d’intérêt général : les hôpitaux, les établissements scolaires, les infrastructures, les politiques pour une transition écologique, en luttant contre le changement climatique. La BCE devrait pouvoir financer les pouvoirs publics si les politiques suivies sont légitimes. Le fait que les orientations européennes aient décidé de fournir le monopole du crédit aux banques privées crée un élément d’illégitimité. On le voit, les banques empruntent à 0,05 % et prêtent à des taux supérieurs aux États. Si la BCE prêtait directement aux États, on pourrait avoir une politique de relance économique, une croissance compatible avec l’environnement et génératrice d’emplois décents et utiles. On combattrait l’accumulation de dettes qui mène à des déficits fiscaux qui sont par la suite combattus par des politiques d’austérité qui ne font qu’aggraver la stagnation, voire la régression économique.

Voir en ligne : http://www.humanite.fr/

Grèce : « la catastrophe sanitaire s’aggrave »

25 mai par Eugenie Barbezat

Du 11 au 16 mai, des membres du collectif « Solidarité France Grèce pour la Santé » sont allés à Athènes, à la rencontre des personnels des dispensaires sociaux et solidaires autogérés. Leurs observations sont alarmantes.

Ce collectif, composé d’élus, de militantes et militants syndicaux, politiques ou issus de la société civile, majoritairement des professionnels du soin, de la santé et du médicament en France mais aussi de l’éducation s’est constitué il y a deux ans avec pour objectif de soutenir matériellement dispensaires et pharmacies sociales et solidaires en Grèce grâce à des collectes d’argent et de médicaments. La volonté des membres du collectif (ATTAC, Coordination des comités de défense des maternités et hôpitaux de proximité, CODEGAS, CGT Sanofi, SNESUP-FSU, SUD Santé Sociaux, SMG, USMC/SNCDCS, Ensemble, NPA, PCF, PG), est également de manifester un soutien politique à cette nouvelle forme de résistance aux mesures d’austérité appliquées à la Grèce depuis 2008.

Afin d’apporter sur place des médicaments, du matériel médical et de l’argent, mais surtout pour mesurer sur place l’ampleur des besoins, une délégation a été constituée et s’est rendue à Athènes du 12 au 16 mai dernier. Michèle Montel, responsable CGT chez SANOFi a pu notamment constater « l’état de délabrement du système de santé qui est de plus en plus difficilement pallié par les solidarités intra familiales, qui s’épuisent. C’est bien pire qu’il y a deux ans, précises-t-elle. Comme les personnes sans emploi n’ont pas d’assurance sociale, il y a de gros problèmes, particulièrement au niveau de la santé bucco-dentaire et du fait du manque de vaccins. »

Les hôpitaux sont en faillite : « Nous avons visité Sotiria, hôpital historique et de référence pour les Balkans des maladies respiratoires et de la tuberculose. Il est au bord de l’effondrement.
D’une part, il est sous-financé et manque crucialement de personnel et de matériel. (5 services ont été fermés à Sotiria). L’incidence de la tuberculose explose, le taux de suicides augmente et la plupart des cancers ne sont plus soignées. La malaria et la rage sont réapparues.
La surcharge de travail des personnels soignants est énorme et due en partie à la désorganisation des soins primaires. (112 patients vus aux urgences en 12h de garde pour une seule praticienne). Les effectifs paramédicaux sont en chute libre du fait des départs en retraite non remplacés.
D’autre part, une violence inouïe s’exerçait sur les patients. Avant l’arrivée au gouvernement de Syriza l’administration demandait par exemple aux femmes enceintes 1000€ par accouchement. A défaut de paiement, il était fait pression sur les membres de la famille et à défaut, intervenait la saisie des biens au domicile. Des familles étaient poussées à la ruine dans les cas où un de leurs membres étaient atteints de maladie chroniques nécessitant une hospitalisation. Il a été fait aussi état de personnes se suicidant à l’annonce d’une maladie grave pour éviter d’être une charge intolérable pour leurs proches.
 »

Autre problème majeur sur lequel la délégation tient à insister : une demande psychiatrique et psychologique forte de la part des usagers, conséquences directes de la pauvreté et de la précarité. Or Pour des raisons budgétaires et en réponse aux exigences de la Troïka, nombres d’hopitaux psychiatriques ont été fermés ces derniers mois en Grèce, ce qui surcharge encore les hopitaux déjà débordés et pose des problèmes de cohabitation entre les patients. « Sur les huit établissements publics de psychiatrie il n’en reste que trois ouverts. Les structures extrahospitalières et associatives ont fermés les unes après les autres.
A Dafni, sur les mille poste de soignants à l’origine il n’y en a plus que 500 de pourvus, ils assurent les oins pour 1100 patients hospitalisés et l’accompagnement de 600 en extra hospitalier.
La demande de soins a augmenté de 60% en quelques années, la part des hospitalisations sur demande judiciaire est largement majoritaire (60%) les autres sont abandonnés à la rue ou à charge des familles.
Personnels et malades collaborent à la survie de l’hôpital, par exemple en vendant le produit de cultures vivrières locales à l’entrée de l’hôpital. Si les mesures imposées par l’Union européenne sont suivies cet hôpital fermera en Juin prochain. Les personnels ont décidés sont organisés pour de résister coûte que coûte. Ils se sont organisés. A terme c’est la disparition quasi-totale des hôpitaux publics de psychiatrie qui est visée par les politiques imposée par l’Union Européenne.
Dans tout ce marasme les personnels encore présents, toute catégories confondues, œuvrent à maintenir des soins diversifiés et de qualité. Comme elles et ils nous l’ont confié alors qu’à une autre époque ils militaient pour une psychiatrie extrahospitalière sectorisé ils sont contraints aujourd’hui à se battre pour sauver leur hôpital, seule condition pour garder leurs maigres moyens. La pédopsychiatrie est réduite à quasi néant et cela demande plus de sept mois pour obtenir un rendez-vous.
En psychiatrie comme ailleurs les patients sont orienté vers le privé lucratif. Des cliniques de haut niveau pour patients solvables, mais dans le cas des patients de psychiatrie il existe aussi des cliniques bas de gamme où l’on peut trouver des situations avec des malades majoritairement sous contention physique (la nuit, une psychiatre, deux soignants pour… 240 patients !).
 »

Face à la faillite du système de santé, aujourd’hui, une cinquantaine de dispensaires solidaires sociaux ont vu le jour avec la crise et fonctionnent dans toute la Grèce grâce à l’action et au travail de volontaires. Médecins, généralistes ou spécialistes, dentistes, pharmaciens, psychologues et personnels paramédicaux et administratifs s’y impliquent avec le soutien actif des citoyens qui collaborent à ces structures.
« Les témoignages des volontaires militants de ces dispensaires montrent l’importance de l’action collective pour le droit à la santé, pour la dignité de chacune et de chacun. Nous avons aussi observé qu’une majorité de ces dispensaires s’inscrivent également dans une multitude d’actions solidaires sur les déterminants de santé (alimentation, logement, vêtements, culture, éducation…) », précisent les Français qui viennent de rentrer d’Athènes. « Nous avons constaté que leur démarche de solidarité ne s’arrête pas aux frontières : le soutien aux combattantes et combattants kurdes de Kobané par l’apport de matériel médical en témoigne ainsi que l’aide à l’obtention de papiers pour les personnes émigrées. », une belle leçon de solidarité pour l’Europe dont les membres les plus riches veulent faire une forteresse.

Rencontre avec le ministre (Siriza) de la santé

La délégation a également été reçue par le Ministre grec délégué à la Santé, Monsieur Andréas Xanthos ainsi que par le Ministre des affaires sociales et de la santé, Panayotis Kouroublis. A cette occasion Andréas Xanthos, le co-fondateur du premier dispensaire social en Crête Rethymnon en 2008, lui-même médecin hospitalier et actuellement vice-ministre de la santé, leur a fait part de ses inquiétude face à la situation sanitaire, sous-évaluée jusqu’en 2012 par les autorités au pouvoir. Il considère que les pratiques des dispensaires ont permis de mesurer la réalité de la catastrophe sanitaire et Syriza a déjà pris quelques mesures d’urgence dont le rétablissement et l’extension de la couverture maladie, la suppression du forfait hospitalier de 5€, l’accès aux soins primaires gratuits quel que soit la nationalité, le revenu, le statut de l’emploi et la position sociale. Mais la restauration du système de santé prendra du temps, d’autant que les instances européennes tentent de bloquer toutes ces réformes sociales au profit d’un remboursement rapide de la « dette » grecque. « Le temps est un enjeu crucial », leur a précisé Andréas Xanthos, qui déplore le cynisme de Bruxelles face au danger mortel que courent des milliers d’enfants et des personnes âgées grecs faute de soins adaptés.

Il s’agit aujourd’hui de créer un rapport de force européen sur la question du médicament face à la puissance des multinationales de l’industrie pharmaceutique. Notamment pour les enjeux cruciaux du contrôle des prix, de la production, du brevet, de la commercialisation et du cadre légal.
Au-delà, du secteur de la santé, le collectif souligne l’importance des liens de convergence des luttes contre l’austérité qui se constituent dans chaque pays, en Europe, précieuses pour le gouvernement Grec et pour la démocratie Européenne.

«  Tous les peuples d’Europe sont concernés. La Grèce est un test pour l’Europe libérale . Agir partout, se rassembler dans une lutte coordonnée et solidaire contre une austérité décrété par des politiques qui agissent contre l’intérêt des peuples est incontournable. Contre les politiques nationales qui y concourent et contre les injonctions de l’Europe financière, pour revendiquer la construction d’un Europe sociale.
Nous sommes tous revenus avec une foule d’informations à transmettre, des compétences à rassembler, des liens à faire vivre, des actions à mettre en œuvre.
 » conclue Danièle Montel.

Source : http://www.humanite.fr

Audit de la dette grecque : à l’instar du théâtre classique, il y a unité de lieu, unité de temps et unité d’action

21 mai par Eric Toussaint

Quelques caractéristiques importantes de la dette publique réclamée à la Grèce :
Dans le cas grec, à l’instar du théâtre classique, il y a unité de lieu (la Grèce dans l’UE ), unité de temps (2010-2015), unité d’action (les politiques dictées dans le cadre des mémorandums de 2010 et de 2012 qui ont entraîné une chute de 25% du PIB et une dégradation sans précédent en temps de paix des conditions de vie la population grecque), enfin, des acteurs bien identifiés (les membres de la Troïka, les gouvernants grecs, quelques créanciers privés). Souvent, une restructuration de dette sert à blanchir des dettes illégales et/ou odieuses afin de leur donner une apparence de légalité et de légitimité. Dans ce cas, lorsqu’on commence l’audit, il est généralement nécessaire de retourner 10, 15 ou 30 ans en arrière.

En Grèce, nous sommes confrontés à une situation différente.
La dette récente, celle qui est réclamée aujourd’hui à ce pays, est marquée par des éléments d’irrégularité, d’illégitimité, d’illégalité, d’insoutenabilité, voire de caractère odieux. Certes, les dettes grecques qui ont été accumulées avant 2010 sont elles-même largement illégitimes et / ou illégales (contrats d’armement avec fraude et corruption à la clé, grands travaux liés aux jeux olympiques de 2004 liés à des surfacturations et à de la corruption, cadeaux fiscaux à une minorité privilégiée, sauvetages bancaires, taux exagérés) mais ce qui est particulièrement frappant c’est à quel point les dettes contractées depuis 2010 sont viciées.

Les mémorandums, la restructuration et le processus d’accumulation de la dette publique grecque sont marqués manifestement d’irrégularité, d’illégitimité, d’illégalité et ont selon toute vraisemblance un caractère odieux.

Ici, ce sont les nouveaux créanciers avec la complicité des autorités locales (les gouvernements grecs) qui ont poussé la Grèce dans une situation d’impossibilité de remboursement. Ces créanciers (la troïka) ont imposé des politiques dont les fameuses « conditionnalités » avaient en réalité deux vocations essentielles :

- sauver les banques privées étrangères et grecques alors qu’elles étaient largement responsables de la crise ;
- imposer des politiques macroéconomiques néolibérales récessives et régressives (privatisations, licenciements, réduction radicale des revenus, etc.) impliquant des violations des DESC (droits économiques sociaux et culturels) et des droits civils et politiques, précarisant et appauvrissant la population. Il s’agissait d’imposer à la population grecque une dévaluation interne brutale |1| .

Pour la seule année 2015, les créanciers de la Grèce réclament au pays un montant de 23 milliards d’euros. Plusieurs paiements ont déjà été réalisés et, depuis la signature des accords de février 2015, la Grèce s’approche d’une situation d’insoutenabilité financière. De nombreux analystes considèrent que c’est déjà le cas et certains parmi eux jugent que le pays est dans une situation d’insoutenabilité du remboursement de la dette du point de vue du respect des droits humains, vu la profondeur de la crise humanitaire et la nécessité de réunir des moyens financiers importants pour commencer à la résoudre. Plusieurs journalistes et éditorialistes « hétérodoxes » de la presse financière dominante (Wolfgang Munchau du Financial Times, Romaric Godin de La Tribune,…) plaident pour la suspension du paiement et pour une annulation de la dette grecque.

Etant donné l’urgence dans laquelle se trouve le pays et les attentes de sa population qui a opté pour le changement, la Commission pour la vérité sur la dette grecque va privilégier dans un premier temps l’analyse de la période 2010-2015. Bien sûr, l’audit du processus d’endettement de la période antérieure sera également à réaliser et certains membres de cette commission s’y emploient d’ores et déjà.

Dans les dettes que la Commission est chargée d’analyser, on relève des facteurs évidents d’illégalité et d’insoutenabilité.

Je reprends les quatre définitions que j’ai avancées depuis le début de l’annonce de la mise place de la Commission lors de la conférence de presse tenue le 17 mars dernier.

a. Dette publique illégitime : dette contractée par les pouvoirs publics sans respecter l’intérêt général ou au préjudice de l’intérêt général. Une dette contractée pour favoriser l’intérêt particulier d’une minorité privilégiée.

b. Dette illégale : dette contractée en violation des lois, de l’ordre juridique ou constitutionnel applicable. Si l’illégalité est avérée, l’Etat peut déclarer la nullité de la dette.

c. Dette publique odieuse : crédits octroyés en imposant des conditions qui violent les droits sociaux, économiques, culturels, civils ou politiques des populations concernées par le remboursement.

d. Dette publique insoutenable : dette dont le remboursement condamne la population d’un pays à l’appauvrissement, à une dégradation de la santé et de l’éducation publique, à l’augmentation du chômage,… Bref, une dette dont le remboursement implique le non respect des droits humains fondamentaux. Dit autrement : une dette dont le remboursement empêche les pouvoirs publics de garantir les droits humains fondamentaux. Sur la base de l’argument de l’insoutenabilité de la dette un État peut déclarer un moratoire des paiements (sans que cela génère des intérêts de retard). On pourrait bien sûr également parler d’insoutenabilité financière et économique du remboursement de la dette.

Au cours de sa deuxième réunion plénière tenue du 4 au 7 mai 2015, la Commission pour la vérité sur la dette publique grecque a adopté une définition des dettes illégitimes, illégales, odieuses et insoutenables. Ces définitions seront rendues publiques en français rapidement |2| .

J’ai la conviction après avoir étudié sous bien des aspects la dette réclamée à la Grèce qu’on peut prouver l’existence d’irrégularités, d’illégalité, de fraude, d’insoutenabilité… afin de conclure à la nullité d’une partie très importante de la dette.

Concernant la définition du caractère illégitime de la dette, voire de son caractère odieux, plusieurs auteurs considèrent qu’il faut réunir 3 conditions :
- absence de consentement ;
- absence de bénéfice ;
- connaissance des éléments précédents par les créanciers.

J’avance comme hypothèse que ces trois critères sont réunis dans le cas de la dette grecque :
- la population et ses représentants au parlement n’ont pas donné leur consentement en bonne et due forme, les règles démocratiques n’ont pas été respectées ;
- de toute évidence, la population n’a pas bénéficié des politiques menées en application des accords d’endettement ;
- enfin, il est indéniable que les créanciers, notamment les membres de la troïka étaient conscients que les politiques qu’ils imposaient n’allaient pas améliorer les conditions de vie de la population, ils demandaient expressément et exigent encore la suppression de dizaines de milliers d’emplois, la diminution des salaires et des retraites, une réduction des dépenses sociales, la restriction des libertés de négociation, etc.

Ce dernier aspect est également très important. Pourquoi ?
La majorité des dettes publiques des pays industrialisés est constituée de titres vendus par les États sur les marchés financiers. Les acquéreurs des titres (ce sont dans la plupart des cas des banques) prétendent généralement qu’ils ne connaissent pas l’utilisation précise qui est faite des fonds octroyés aux autorités publiques. Or dans le cas grec, cet argument contestable en soi, ne tient pas la route car les fonds sont octroyés par les prêteurs dans le cadre de prêts (qui font l’objet de contrats) sous réserve que toute une série de conditions soient respectées. Ces conditions ou conditionnalités sont explicitées dans les contrats de prêts et dans les documents qui y sont annexés : mémorandums et rapports d’exécution de ceux-ci.

Les conclusions de la Commission ne pourront pas être prises en compte par un tribunal international des dettes car il n’en existe pas.
Il n’y a toujours pas de mécanisme de résolution des crises des dettes souveraines. L’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies va à peine commencer à travailler sur ces questions.

Les travaux et les conclusions de la Commission peuvent avoir plusieurs conséquences :
- renforcer ou provoquer la prise de conscience dans l’opinion publique nationale et internationale du caractère illégitime, illégal, insoutenable, odieux de la dette réclamée à la Grèce ;
- renforcer ou provoquer la prise de conscience dans les parlements des pays membres de l’Union européenne et au parlement européen du caractère illégitime, illégal, insoutenable, odieux de la dette réclamée à la Grèce ;
- donner des arguments aux autorités grecques pour mener à bien des négociations afin de réduire radicalement la dette ;
- donner des arguments aux autorités grecques pour décréter un moratoire sur le remboursement de la dette jugée insoutenable afin de – forcer les créanciers à négocier sérieusement ;
- donner des arguments aux autorités grecques pour poser d’autres actes souverains unilatéraux en cas d’échec des négociations ;
- amener la justice du pays à entamer des poursuites judiciaires contre les responsables d’actes de fraude et de tout délit condamnables ;
- amener le pouvoir législatif à adopter des lois qui empêchent ou limitent la reproduction d’un processus endettement illégitime, illégal, insoutenable, odieux…
- favoriser, dans le cas d’un processus constituant, l’adoption de dispositions constitutionnelles qui empêchent ou limitent la reproduction d’un processus d’endettement illégitime, illégal, insoutenable, odieux…
- rendre les créanciers responsables de leurs actes de manière à réduire l’aléa moral (moral hazard) et éviter qu’ils prêtent dans des conditions qui violent les droits humains fondamentaux.

On peut certainement ajouter d’autres débouchés possibles de l’audit en cours.

Conclusion :
Il faut souligner le caractère historique de l’audit actuellement engagé en Grèce. Les crises de dettes souveraines ont été nombreuses au cours des deux derniers siècles. Dans les années 30 du siècle passé, la plupart des pays d’Europe ont été en suspension prolongée de paiement. Au moment de l’accord de Londres sur la dette allemande de 1953, l’Allemagne était en suspension de paiement depuis 1932 (soit depuis plus de 20 ans). Depuis la deuxième guerre mondiale, on compte plus de 170 suspensions de paiement et plus de 600 restructurations de dette. Mais le cas grec est tout à fait singulier : c’est la première fois qu’en Europe les autorités d’un pays mettent en place un processus d’audit indépendant avec participation citoyenne. Et c’est ce qui fait de cette initiative engagée par Zoé Konstantopoulou, la Présidente du parlement grec, un geste démocratique exemplaire, sachant qu’au final c’est aux citoyens grecs et aux autorités du pays qu’il appartient de prendre les décisions qu’ils jugeront pertinentes.

http://cadtm.org/Audit-de-la-dette-grecque-a-l

Terms of reference for the Hellenic Parliament’s Truth Committee on Public Debt

21 May by Truth Committee on the Greek Public Debt

Background

Since May 2010, Greece has been implementing a macroeconomic adjustment programme as a condition for accessing loans from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank to help it reduce its budget deficit. The programme consists of policy measures that involve deep public spending cuts, public sector job cuts, tax increases, privatization and structural reforms that are apparently aimed at reducing the country’s fiscal deficit and public debt to sustainable levels. However, these internationally recommended measures have pushed the economy into deep recession (the longest experienced in Europe at a time of peace) and millions of Greeks into poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, while grossly undermining the enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic and social rights and the function of public services and infrastructures (schools, hospitals, courts around the country have been closed down or merged in order to secure cuts in public expenses).

In response to this situation and within the framework of the Parliament’s responsibility to the Greek people, on 4 April 2015, the President of the Hellenic Parliament decided to establish a Special Committee of the Greek Parliament to investigate the truth about the creation and the increase of the public debt, the Auditing of the Debt and the promotion of the Hellenic Parliament’s international cooperation with the European Parliament and the Parliaments of other countries and with International Organizations in matters of debt, in order to address the range of legal, social and economic issues that demand proper consideration and raise awareness of the Greek population, the international community and the international public opinion (“The Truth Committee on Public Debt”).

This decision was taken pursuant to Articles 49, 162 par. 4 and 5 and 162 A of the Regulation of the Hellenic Parliament, (Parliamentary Part Government Gazette 106 /A /87) as applicable and Articles 98 and 164F of the Regulation of the Hellenic Parliament, (Part II Government Gazette 51/ A/1997) as applicable. It is also in line with Regulation (EU) No. 472/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States in the euro area experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability, as well as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights (A/HRC/20/23) adopted by the Human Rights Council in July 2012.

Paragraph 9 of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No. 472/2013 enjoins a Member State subject to a macroeconomic adjustment programme to “carry out a comprehensive audits of its public finances in order, inter alia, to assess the reasons that led to the build-up of excessive levels of debt as well as to track any possible irregularity”. The UN Guiding Principles call upon States to undertake periodic audits of their public debts in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of their resources and to inform future borrowing decisions.

Objective

The overall purpose of the audit to be carried out by the Truth Committee on Public Debt is to examine the nature and extent of the country’s public debt, as well as the processes relating to the contracting and/or accumulation of the debt and the impact of the cuts or changes in the provision of public services, programmes and benefits on the human rights and welfare of all people living in Greece in order to identify what part or proportion of the debt can be defined as illegitimate, illegal, odious or unsustainable. The periods covered are the Memoranda period, i.e. from May 2010 until January 2015, as well as the years 1990 – 2010. The audit is also designed to contribute to transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s public finances, to formulate arguments and requests concerning the cancellation of the debt and to ensure that potential future borrowing decisions are reached on the basis of informed consent.

Membership

The Committee shall be comprised of international members and Greek nationals with recognized competence and expertise or experience in the subject matters of the audit, public debt; human rights protection and transparency guarantees, as well as representatives of the relevant social movements. Members of the Committee will be appointed by the President of the Hellenic Parliament and will not receive any remuneration for their work.

Scope of work

The Committee shall audit the country’s public debt with a particular focus on the agreements, contracts and other means by which debt was acquired, loans were secured and their terms were implemented in order to:

Determine whether irregularities, violations of the constitution or the law and/or other improprieties occurred with respect of the contracting and/or build-up of the debt;
Examine the conditions under which the public debt of Greece grew in the period 1990-2010;
Examine the conditions under which the Memoranda of May 2010 and May 2012 were concluded;
Determine whether and if so which part of the debt can be deemed illegitimate, illegal, odious or unsustainable;
Assess the impact of the conditionality measures under the economic adjustment programme on the human rights and welfare of all people living in Greece.

Timeframe

The Committee’s work was inaugurated during a 4-day public procedure in the Hellenic Parliament (4th – 7th April, 2015). An open invitation was launched for the nomination of members additional to those participating to the founding procedure. An initial framework for working groups and terms of cooperation was discussed during a closed session on April 7, 2015. The requirements of the audit work have been assessed and the implementation of the Committee’s mandate will officially commence with the second meeting of its members on May 4th – 7th 2015 and shall continue its work for such a period as will be required for the carrying out of its mandate. The President of the Hellenic Parliament may determine indicative or mandatory deadlines for aspects of the findings. At the conclusion of its work, the Committee will present a written report to the President. The report shall include an executive summary which should be self-explanatory and should include a summary of findings, conclusions and recommendations. The Committee will present information on its preliminary findings in June 2015.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

In this report, the following terms have the meanings respectively assigned to them hereunder:

“Illegitimate debt”
Debt that the borrower cannot be required to repay because the loan, security or guarantee, or the terms and conditions attached to that loan, security or guarantee infringed the law (both national and international) or public policy, or because such terms or conditions were grossly unfair, unreasonable, unconscionable or otherwise objectionable, or because the conditions attached to the loan, security or guarantee included policy prescriptions that violate national laws or human rights standards, or because the loan, security or guarantee was not used for the benefit of the population or the debt was converted from private (commercial) to public debt under pressure to bailout creditors.

“Illegal debt”
Debt in respect of which proper legal procedures (including those relating to authority to sign loans or approval of loans, securities or guarantees by the representative branch or branches of Government of the borrower State) were not followed, or which involved clear misconduct by the lender (including bribery, coercion and undue influence), as well as debt contracted in violation of domestic and international law or had conditions attached thereto that contravened the law or public policy.

“Odious debt”
Debt, which the lender knew or ought to have known, was incurred in violation of democratic principles (including consent, participation, transparency and accountability), and used against the best interests of the population of the borrower State, or is unconscionable and whose effect is to deny people their fundamental civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

“Unsustainable debt”
Debt that cannot be serviced without seriously impairing the ability or capacity of the Government of the borrower State to fulfil its basic human rights obligations, such as those relating to healthcare, education, water and sanitation and adequate housing, or to invest in public infrastructure and programmes necessary for economic and social development, or without harmful consequences for the population of the borrower State (including a deterioration in the living standards). Such debt is payable but its payment ought to be suspended in order to allow the state to fulfil its human rights commitments.

http://cadtm.org

Athens : Press Conference Committee for the Truth on the Public Debt

7 May 2015 at the Greek parliament

18 May by Zoe Konstantopoulou , Eric Toussaint , Cephas Lumina , Maria Lucia Fattorelli , Yorgos Mitralias

Participants:

  • Ms. Zoe Konstantopoulou, President of the Greek Parliament and President of the Committee for the Truth on the Public Debt;
  • Mr. Éric Toussaint, Scientific Coordinator of the Committee and head of the group of international experts, historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège. He is the President of CADTM Belgium, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. A specialist in odious and illegitimate debt, he has been analysing debts which lack legal bases for many years;
  • Mr. Cephas Lumina, member of the Committee, Dr Lumina is an Extra-Ordinary Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria. He was appointed the United Nations Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights until end of May 2014. In 2013 he produced the United Nations special report on Greece and Human Rights;
  • Ms. Maria Lucia Fattorelli, member of the Committee and coordinator of the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit Commission;
  • Mr. Giorgos Mitralias, member of this Committee and initiator of the appeal to support this Committee.

Summary of the presentation by Zoe Konstantopoulou

After presenting the participants Zoe Konstantopoulou described the progress the Committee, has made, during the meeting from the 4th to the 7th of May 2015 at the Greek parliament to organise the work, use and evaluate the results and to establish a work-sheet for the following phases.
She announced that government’s departments have been approached with requests for all the documents, memoranda and loan contracts necessary for the audit, all the documents have been made available, including those pertaining to judicial enquiries and the decisions that led up to accepting current memoranda. Some of these documents hold very important information as to how the debt developed, the signatures on the contracts the steps allegedly taken to manage it that actually caused its exponential increase.

The President of the Greek Parliament referred to two other enquiry procedures that will allow deeper insight into the questions raised by the Greek debt than the simple examination of the documents available from the Greek authorities. On the one hand the Committee will hear all persons that may have useful information or evidence concerning the debt. On the other, through the authority of the Hellenic parliament parliament the Committee will request information and answers from any clearly defined international organisation identified as having taken part in the creation or increase in the Greek public debt in order to bring to light any hidden intentions.

It was also announced that the Committee’s next plenary session will take place from 15 to 18 June 2015 and that a preliminary report will be made public. The Committee will then enquire more deeply to complete its mission and work towards a final report which may take until the end of the year or beyond. Finally Zoe Konstantopoulou announced that the civil society is already an active partner of this Committee. This was illustrated by the surprising reaction to the appeal for public support, which collected numerous prestigious signatures from international personalities even before the appeal was official.

Summary of the presentation by Eric Toussaint

Eric Toussaint presented the way the Committee started and intends to continue its work.
During this second plenary meeting of the Committee, which lasted three and a half days, 15 or more presentations were made by commission members that analysed the state of the Greek debt that is demanded by the creditors, each focusing on the specific aspects for which they have the charge.

We see that the Greek debt is characterised by unity of time, protagonists and action: during the 2010 – 2015 period, fourteen Eurozone countries, the ECB, the IMF and the EFSF took over control of 80% of the Greek debt and imposed on the debtor the measures that they had agreed on among themselves.

We have studied the main creditors’ demands to see if they present features pointing to illegitimate, illegal, odious or unsustainable debt. We have worked on the definitions of these terms and have come to a general agreement on these definitions.

We have examined the legal aspects of the debt. We have heard different points of view on this subject, particularly that of professor Giorgos Kassimatis, which has permitted us to identify proofs of transgressions of the Greek constitution and Greek laws, also transgressions of international law in the conditions imposed by creditors.

We have agreed on the form of the preliminary report that we intend to make public on 25 June 2015. We have outlined our work plan. A drafting committee has been set up and sub-committees will make specific contributions on each one of the items that appear in our report.

These drafts will be available from the end of May and the drafting committee will draw on them to produce the preliminary report that will be available on or around the 9 or 10 June so as to be discussed in the plenary session that will be held from the 15 to 17 June.

We have established a list of personalities to be heard. This group of personalities includes some who have taken part in the decisions that have been made and others who bring their expertise, on the effects of the decisions.

The Greek situation is specific: the creditors are not financial institutions or a large sector of the public but a limited number of parties that have imposed precise policies and measures on Greece. On top of the common nature of the parties involved there is a consistency in the method. Such unity of time, parties and measures makes it possible for this audit to achieve preliminary results more rapidly than it may have done in other cases.

Finally, Éric Toussaint brought attention to the fact that the Greek debt audit is already emulated abroad. On 28 April the Argentine parliament decided to do a debt audit over 180 days to show the results before the next elections. It is interesting to note that Argentina is a member of the G20. This demonstrates that the debt question is important throughout the World and the Greek debt audit initiative is exemplary.

Summary of the presentation by Cephas Lumina

Mr Lumina explained the potential incompatibility between managing a country’s public debt and human rights. Two kinds of conflict can arise: when a government has to choose between financing essential public services and repaying its debt or when a government is forced by creditors to implement heavy austerity measures that have deeply negative consequences on its citizens’ living conditions.

In his survey of the Greek situation in 2013 Mr Lumina could establish from several sources that the adjustment measures taken in Greece had a very high cost not just for the government and society but also in terms of taking its toll on the Greek population. Those measures involved breaches into such fundamental rights as the rights to housing, to health and to education. The Greek crisis is not just a financial issue, it is a humanitarian crisis.

He brought into the picture those human faces that are badly hit by the crisis and that he met personally. From his first day in Greece in 2013 he found out about the human crisis as he heard about a bankrupt contractor committing suicide. Next, as he visited a social clinic founded to meet the needs of migrants, he could see that it mainly cared for destitute Greek citizens; he met a former contractor who didn’t even have the bus fare he needed to get back home. He also came across a group of graduates who had lost their jobs and were homeless. Finally he mentioned a 91 year old holder of Greek bonds who was told to wait for another 30 years before he could sell them in order to live.

Auditing the debt is a move that shows the Parliament is facing its responsibility towards the Greek people. In his report on Greece he had recommended such an audit, as he had also done for Argentina where his advice has eventually been heeded too.

Setting up committees to audit public debts is consistent with UN recommendations on the necessary transparency governments owe their citizens during the course of managing their public debts. Such audits are actually a legal obligation for Member States in the euro area experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability, as is the case in Greece, according to Regulation N° 472/2013 of the European Parliament on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance.

Mr Lumina finally responded to a press article that presented the Committee for the Truth on the Public Debt as a bunch of militant activists. The Committee bears no relation to such a definition. It is a legal obligation that is independent of any political view. Its task is to shed light on the public debt and on the human consequences of the measures taken by technocrats that manage it with no regard for the population. Its task is to make sure that the Human Rights adopted over sixty years ago are vindicated.

Summary of the presentation by Maria-Lucia Fattorelli

Maria Lucia Fattorelli indicated that she has been working with Éric Toussaint on debt issues for over twenty years. She came to Greece to bring her experience of auditing debts to the Greek members of the Committee.

We must find out how the debt was contracted then transferred from private to public creditors.
We must also examine statistical data as well as analyse all conditions and conventions underpinning debt management. We are currently collecting documents and elements that will make it possible for us to understand how the debt was contracted and why it grew out of proportion.
We must also determine the impact of the debt on the Greek economy. To achieve this we cannot be content with a legal approach. We shall also examine the macro-economic parameters that account for the increase of the debt.

My experience in auditing debts has taught me that debts are never an isolated phenomenon but are part of a system with political, economic and legal dimensions. It is important to find out whom the debt system benefited. Has the Greek economy benefited from it, or the Greek citizens?
Answering such questions is the aim to be achieved by all debt audits and also our objective in the context of the present Committee.

Summary of the presentation by Giorgos Mitralias

We have recently launched a campaign not only to support Greece and its Committee for the Truth on the Public Debt, but also to reclaim the people’s right to audit their public debt. This campaign is European as well as international. The original appeal has already been translated into 12 languages, including Arabic, and we are planning to translate it into other languages ​​as diverse as Urdu or Pashto.

We believe that millions of people in Europe and the world want to voice their rejection of the austerity policies and the debt system. The initial reactions to our campaign confirm this assumption.
The first 1,000 signatories include illustrious personalities such as Noam Chomsky as well as some of the World’s best known economists. What is particularly interesting is that these signatures are generally accompanied by comments demonstrating the signatories’ strong motivation. We plan to publish those comments to give you an idea of the massive interest generated by the campaign, to demonstrate that our opinions are widely shared around the world, and to wipe out the feeling of isolation and helplessness too many experience when faced with these harsh realities. For the past two days we have been collecting online signatures from the people in two countries (France and Belgium) and we have already collected 2,600 new signatures. Very soon a massive collection of signatures will commence in other countries.

We have great responsibilities. The signatories want more. They want concrete proposals for actions that could be undertaken together. We must be able to take the plunge.

Question-answer session with journalists

Antonopoulos – STAR TV Channel : During the ongoing negotiations our creditors laid down new drastic conditions. Technocrats are unaware of the sufferings of the common people. As we have signed agreements with them in the past and as there is state continuity, how can we free ourselves from our bonds?

Zoé Konstantopoulou: That is not exactly how things stand. The continuity of the state does not presuppose the continuation of illegal actions. This is particularly relevant when the agreements and the conduct of the signatories do not conform to national and international laws. It is precisely the Commission’s mission to find out whether these agreements and their conditions are compliant with the law, since there have been ample indications to suggest that several elements of these agreements do not conform to legal provisions.

Eric Toussaint mentioned two legal points discussed in the Committee, which can challenge the validity of the contracts: the State of Necessity (or Necessity) and the radical change of circumstances for which creditors are responsible.
According to the doctrine of Necessity, a country is not obliged to continue its debt repayment if that prevents it from fulfilling its basic obligations to the citizens. A country might indeed end up with suspending its debt repayments since international law prioritizes fundamental rights.
As for the Greek case we can additionally bring into play a radical change in circumstances attributable to creditors. Next to a problem of statistically manipulating the debt at the initial stages of the crisis, we have seen a radical change in the country’s economic situation, resulting from the creditors’ decisions (25% drop in GDP, soaring unemployment, humanitarian crisis…). In this case, we can pinpoint the direct responsibilities of the creditors and thus question the validity of the agreements.

M.L. Fattorelli: Also it is important to remember that for any debt to be legitimate there must be advantages for the country and the people concerned. In the Greek case, we notice that these advantages are not always clear. Even the opposite is true when we assess the damage caused by this debt both to the economy and the Greek society. On the other hand, Greece’s latest borrowings were mainly to protect the private interests that were widely exposed to the risks of this debt in 2010. The legitimacy of such a plan must also be examined.

Tomassis – Journalist: How hopeful can we be in the global context? The idea of ​​an audit is good. However, if the findings of the audit turn out to be embarrassing what are the chances that they will be heard and have an impact? Since we know who controls the mainstream media at the national level and what the balance of power is at the international level, isn’t this audit a mere illusion?

Zoé Konstantopoulou: The people have to be optimistic when we are taking initiatives with their interests in mind. Also we have governmental and institutional support for this Commission, while independent authorities cooperating with the Commission are involved. We expect this Commission to come up with significant and tangible results and this is not just a statement for the media. For proof, we have already expanded our initial sphere of activity, including the review of TAIPED (The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund) in particular and the condition of the state assets and properties managed by it. The Marangopoulou Foundation will conduct this review.

Tzanetatos- NewPost: You indicated that a sub-committee to conduct hearings will interview people who have been involved or have suffered from the handling of the debt crisis. Will these hearings also concern the officials of the international institutions involved?

Zoé Konstantopoulou: Naturally the institutions and the interviewees from whom explanations and documents will be requested will include international institutions, their agents and any other persons concerned.

Antigoni Panelli – APE: What are your expectations from the Committee’s work and its possible outcome?

Zoé Konstantopoulou: The Committee aims to shed light on all the aspects of the debt. Thereafter it will become everyone’s responsibility to use the truths revealed. It is particularly the media’s responsibility to know how to deal with these results. After mentioning other reports (including that of the UN and the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on the Troika’s responsibilities) so far ignored by the media, the President of the Parliament called on the media to do its job for the results to be fully effective.

Maria-Lucia Fattorelli: We must submit a report. It is an instrument, not an opinion. Once made available it is the responsibility of the government and the society to know how to use it to change the situation of the country and its relations with the creditors.

Papayanis- Avghi (daily newspaper published by Syriza): The Committee’s work is likely to extend beyond this year. How can this be used for the ongoing negotiations with creditors?

Zoé Konstantopoulou: As long as the debt exists it can be negotiated at any time. Moreover, this audit is a legal obligation and it would be somewhat surprising if the creditors, who want to invoke all of Greece’s obligations, should refute it.

Translations and adaptations by Thanos Contargys, Suchandra De Sarkar, Mike Krolikowski and Christine Pagnoulle.