Competition proposals on way
Greece updating troika regarding OECD recommendations; no immediate conclusion to review seen by Rehn
Greece is expected to send today its proposals for dismantling barriers to competition, which the troika this week insisted were key to the current review of the Greek adjustment program being completed and the next bailout tranche being released.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras discussed the matter with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos during a meeting yesterday evening. He emerged to tell reporters that Greece would be responding to the troika today. “We are discussing alternatives,” he said. “We will send tomorrow the proposals that remain.”
Earlier this week, the troika sent an e-mail informing the government that it would have to adopt dozens of recommendations made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for removing regulations that distort competition before the review can be wrapped up.
The OECD has identified 555 regulatory restrictions which it says undermine competition and cost just over 5 billion euros. It made 329 recommendations on legal provisions that should be amended or repealed.
Kathimerini understands that Athens will inform the troika it is prepared to adopt around 80 percent of the recommendations, rejecting some, such as extending the shelf-life of fresh milk, and offering alternatives on others.
Earlier, European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioners Olli Rehn refused to speculate on when the current review would end and indicated that debt relief talks would take place in the summer.
“Greece needs to do its homework,” Rehn told the Wall Street Journal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, adding that the review would conclude “in the next few months.”
With regards to debt relief, the Greek government had been hoping that a confirmation of the country’s 2013 primary budget surplus by Eurostat in April would trigger an immediate discussion about lightening the debt load. However, Rehn said that this discussion would take place “over the summer.”
Given that European Parliament elections are due in May, this indicates that talks regarding debt relief can be expected in June at the earliest.