Date
26 March 2017
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (right) is facing a revolt from hardliners including sacked finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (left) who want a return to the drachma. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (right) is facing a revolt from hardliners including sacked finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (left) who want a return to the drachma. Photo: Reuters

Tsipras under pressure over secret plan to revive curency

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is facing pressure from his Syriza party which is secretly trying to revive the drachma, the country’s currency before it joined the eurozone.

It’s not clear how serious the plans are, but reports attributed them to former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, both sacked earlier this month. 

Reuters is citing local media reports that some members of the leftist government wanted to raid central bank reserves and hack taxpayer accounts to prepare a return to the drachma.

The reports came at the end of a week of speculation over what Syriza hardliners had in mind as an alternative to the tough bailout terms that Tsipras reluctantly accepted to keep Greece in the euro.

About a quarter of the party’s 149 lawmakers rebelled over the plan to pass sweeping austerity measures in exchange for up to 86 billion euros (US$94.5 billion) in fresh loans and Tsipras has struggled to hold the divided party together

In an interview with Sunday’s edition of the RealNews daily, Lafazanis said he had urged the government to tap the reserves of the Bank of Greece in defiance of the European Central Bank.

Lafazanis, leader of a hardline faction in the ruling Syriza party that has argued for a return to the drachma, said the move would have allowed pensions and public sector wages to be paid if Greece were forced out of the euro.

“The main reason for that was for the Greek economy and Greek people to survive, which is the utmost duty every government has under the constitution,” he said.

However he denied a report in the Financial Times that he wanted Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stouranaras to be arrested if he had opposed a move to empty the central bank vaults.

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RA

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