Short­falls wor­ry­ing government

PM, coali­tion part­ners to dis­cuss rev­enue gap, protests ahead of gen­eral strike, troika in­spec­tion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Con­cern is mount­ing in the ranks of the frag­ile coali­tion about a short­fall in rev­enue and foot­drag­ging on a num­ber of re­forms as for­eign in­spec­tors pre­pare to re­turn to Athens and union op­po­si­tion to aus­ter­ity peaks.

Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras is due to dis­cuss th­ese and a host of other prob­lems dur­ing a meet­ing sched­uled for 6 p.m. to­day with his coali­tion part­ners, so­cial­ist PASOK leader Evan­ge­los Venize­los and Fo­tis Kou­velis of Demo­cratic Left.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, se­ri­ous de­lays in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­forms al­lo­cated to sev­eral min­istries have prompted the pre­mier to con­sider a government reshuf­fle, most likely next month fol­low­ing the sched­uled party congress of PASOK. Both Venize­los and Kou­velis are re­port­edly in­ter­ested in in­creas­ing their par­ties’ involvement in the cab­i­net.

It re­mains un­clear which min­is­ters are likely to be dis­missed though sources sug­gest that Sa­ma­ras is un­happy with the per­for­mance of the Health, Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­form, En­vi­ron­ment and Jus­tice min­istries. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Yan­nis Stournaras and Pub­lic Or­der Min­is­ter Nikos Den­dias are be­lieved to be the only two whose port­fo­lios are “safe,” while Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Costis Hatzi­dakis may be flanked by an­other of­fi­cial to boost ef­forts at draw­ing sorely needed in­vest­ment.

Sa­ma­ras met with Hatzi­dakis over the week­end to dis­cuss stalled plans for pri­va­tiz­ing state as­sets – a rich po­ten­tial source of much-needed rev­enue that re­mains largely un­ex­ploited due to fears of the po­lit­i­cal cost of projects that will in­cense unions as well as bu­reau­cratic hur­dles.

The coun­try’s two main la­bor unions have upped the ante al­ready, fol­low­ing weeks of rolling strikes by trans­port work­ers, call­ing a 24-hour walk­out for Wed­nes­day in protest at the government’s on­go­ing aus­ter­ity drive.

Of greater im­me­di­ate con­cern than the union pres­sure, how­ever, are a se­ries of wor­ry­ing eco­nomic fig­ures. The government will need to find ways of bol­ster­ing rev­enue, which last month was 7 per­cent be­low the bud­get tar­get, while so­cial se­cu­rity con­tri­bu­tions are down by some 15 per­cent. With vir­tu­ally no con­crete progress on the lev­els of in­vest­ment and pri­va­ti­za­tion, it is ex­pected that the troika will push the government to boost tax rev­enue and pro­ceed with lay­offs in the pub­lic sec­tor.

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