Talks with Troika re­sume in Paris to exit bailout

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Greek gov­ern­ment re­sumed stalled talks with EU/IMF lenders in Paris on Tues­day, as Athens pushes to con­clude a re­view by in­spec­tors so it can make an early exit to an un­pop­u­lar bailout pro­gramme.

Athens had set a De­cem­ber 8 dead­line to com­plete the re­view.

But talks floun­dered over a pro­jected 2015 bud­get gap and EU/IMF in­spec­tors did not re­turn as ex­pected to Athens this month, lead­ing to con­cerns that any de­lays would de­rail Greece’s plan to quit its bailout by the end of the year.

The two sides are meet­ing in Paris “to ad­vance the re­view and ex­am­ine the frame­work for the day after” the bailout ends, the Greek Fi­nance Min­istry said in a state­ment.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venizelos said the aim re­mained to con­clude the re­view by De­cem­ber 8, when Eurogroup fi­nance min­is­ters will meet, and that the troika from the IMF, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank would re­turn to Athens after the Paris talks.

“We are on a good path, dif­fi­cul­ties are sig­nif­i­cant but a so­lu­tion will be found,” he had told re­porters after meet­ing Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras.

“Mea­sures that will an­noy cit­i­zens will not be taken. This is a fun­da­men­tal decision from which we will not stray.”

The coali­tion gov­ern­ment has staked its own sur­vival on abandoning ahead of sched­ule the 240 bln euro bailout pro­gramme, which has en­tailed un­pop­u­lar aus­ter­ity mea­sures.

Sa­ma­ras needs to push through his can­di­date in a pres­i­den­tial vote in Fe­bru­ary to avoid be­ing forced to call early elec­tions and is hop­ing ex­it­ing the bailout will help win him enough support to sur­vive the vote.

But the fi­nal bailout re­view, like most reviews be­fore it, has strug­gled amid rows over re­forms and aus­ter­ity cuts.

Athens and its for­eign lenders have been at log­ger­heads over the pro­jected deficit for next year, with the lenders say­ing Greece will miss the tar­get of 0.2% of GDP be­cause of a new payback plan for aus­ter­ity-hit Greeks who owe money to the state.

The gov­ern­ment, how­ever, has so far re­sisted changes de­manded by the in­spec­tors, go­ing so far as to sub­mit its 2015 bud­get to par­lia­ment last week with­out the ap­proval of lenders.

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