Troika puts new requests on the table
Lenders want more labor market liberalization and ideas closing 2014 fiscal gap
The troika resumed talks with Greek officials on Saturday after a brief pause, with several issues, including the lifting of restrictions on sackings in the private sector and a fiscal gap of some 800 million euros for 2014, on the negotiating table.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras met with the representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund in central Athens on Saturday. There were reports that the Greek side aimed to raise again the issue of reducing value-added tax in the food service sector. However, the troika’s demands of Greece were far more numerous.
Kathimerini understands that one of the issues up for discussion is removing the limits to dismissals. Last year, Greece had raised the number of people that companies with more than 200 employees could fire in one month from 2 to 5 percent of the firm’s workforce. The government had also reduced the compensation that employers had to pay. The troika wants further liberalization. It argues that this will also make it easier for new workers to be hired.
Another issue being discussed by the two sides is the fiscal gap for next year, which is estimated at 800 million euros. The troika has yet to receive proposals from the Greek government about how this shortfall will be covered. The discussion has taken on greater urgency after the collapse of the privatization of gas firm DEPA last Monday, when Gazprom withdrew its bid.
Greece expects that the Euro Working Group will release its next bailout tranche of 3.3 billion euros this week.