Greece nears troika deal

Two sides close on pub­lic sec­tor cuts, de­tails of pri­va­ti­za­tion agency yet to be set­tled

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The Greek gov­ern­ment and the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, col­lec­tively known as the troika, are near­ing agree­ment on the de­tails of the midterm fis­cal plan and pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­gram but sev­eral key stum­bling blocks re­main, sources told Kathimerini.

Among the is­sues still to be re­solved is whether rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the troika will have seats on the in­de­pen­dent com­mit­tee that will over­see the sell-off of state as­sets and whether these places will come with veto pow­ers.

Sources said that the gov­ern­ment has agreed on a num­ber of mea­sures that will be in­cluded in its midterm fis­cal plan. Among these are fur­ther cuts to the ben­e­fits re­ceived by civil ser­vants and an ex­ten­sion of the time frame in which they can re­ceive a pay rise from two to five years.

The gov­ern­ment also ap­pears to have agreed to ad­just its hir­ing pol­icy for the pub­lic sec­tor. Af­ter prompt­ing from the troika, PASOK had de­cided to hire one civil ser­vant for ev­ery five that leave but this will now be changed to one for ev­ery 10 that de­part. The pub­lic in­vest­ment pro­gram will also be lim­ited to 1 bil­lion eu­ros per year.

Among the other po­ten­tial mea­sures be­ing dis­cussed is the clo­sure of pub­lic en­ter­prises, which will in­evitably lead to job losses. An­other op­tion is the clo­sure of all or some of the state TV chan­nels, which would be re­placed by a smaller pub­lic broad­caster.

A stick­ing point, how­ever, could be the for­ma­tion of the in­de­pen­dent agency that will over­see the pri­va­ti­za­tion scheme, which is sup­posed to raise 50 bil­lion eu­ros by 2015. The troika has in­sisted that its rep­re­sen­ta­tives have a say in the body’s de­ci­sions and that they are able to block any moves they dis­agree with. They have also de­manded that no rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the gov­ern­ment be al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in the agency and that any de­ci­sions it takes should be pro­tected by law so that they can­not later be re­versed by a dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment.

Sources said that both sides are look­ing to wrap up ne­go­ti­a­tions by to­mor­row night. Troika rep­re­sen­ta­tives have de­layed their de­par­ture un­til Satur­day, af­ter which they will de­liver their as­sess­ment on whether Greece should re­ceive the June in­stall­ment of its loan pack­age, worth 12 bil­lion eu­ros. This will be dis­cussed at an emer­gency meet­ing of eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters on June 6 or 13.

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