Troika to ratchet up pressure
EU-IMF officials back in Athens tomorrow, expected to demand more effective measures, greater commitment
The Greek government is bracing itself for another visit tomorrow from representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – collectively known as the troika – as its lenders are expected to push hard for austerity and revenue-raising measures to be applied strictly.
Sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini that troika officials are expected to go as far as threatening to stop Greece’s loan installments if they are not satisfied with the government’s commitment to the economic policies the EU and IMF believe are necessary to get public finances in order and to give the country a chance of returning to the international markets.
The troika team is expected to insist on a detailed and realistic program of spending cuts and trimming of the public sector by 2015. The officials will reject any projections that they feel are overly optimistic, such as potential revenues from a clampdown on tax evasion.
Greece’s lenders will also demand to see bind- ing plans for the sale of state assets and bolder than the ones the government announced last month. The outline proposed by the government last month would bring in a maximum of 11.5 billion this year and next, whereas the target set by the EU-IMF team is 50 billion by 2015.
The troika will also ask for the government to speed up reforms aimed at liberalizing sectors of the economy such as energy, and making the labor market more flexible.
A new opinion poll carried out for Kathimeri- ni and Skai indicates that a growing number of Greeks believe that privatizations are necessary and that the private sector should be given more help than the public sector. The survey indicated that 74 percent of Greeks feel that sales of state assets are “certainly” or “probably” necessary. Seven in 10 also said that the private sector must be boosted in the coming years, compared to 11 percent who favored the public sector.
Just over half of the 514 respondents said that jobs for life in the public sector should end.