Gap be­tween Greece and troika

No progress in ne­go­ti­a­tions ex­pected in next few days as lenders wait for Athens to show its in­tent

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece and the troika are not ex­pected to break the dead­lock in their ne­go­ti­a­tions over the next few days, sources told Kathimerini after another day of ten­sion-filled talks be­tween the two sides.

Troika sources sug­gested that there is still a siz­able dis­tance be­tween the two sides, with Greece’s lenders putting next year’s fis­cal gap at be­tween 2 and 3 bil­lion euros. The Greek gov­ern­ment sub­mit­ted its 2015 bud­get to Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day de­spite this dis­agree­ment. It is in­sist­ing that any deal with the troika must not in­volve the need to adopt ad­di­tional aus­ter­ity mea­sures next year.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank and In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund ex­pect to see some con­ces­sions from Greece in the next few days if there is go­ing to be any chance of com­plet­ing the pend­ing re­view by De­cem­ber 8, when eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters will meet in Brussels.

Among the key is­sues are: the Greek gov­ern­ment giv­ing greater in­de­pen­dence to the Gen­eral Sec­re­tariat for Rev­enues, adding the num­ber of prod­ucts and ser­vices that are sub­ject to the top rate of value-added tax (23 per­cent), scrap­ping VAT breaks for some is­lands and in­tro­duc­ing in­come or wealth cri­te­ria for tax­pay­ers who can ben­e­fit from pay­ment plans for their ar­rears.

The gov­ern­ment is rul­ing out the op­tion of ex­tend­ing the cur­rent pro­gram if it is not able to come to an agree­ment with the troika soon, al­low­ing prepa­ra­tions to be­gin on a pre­cau­tion­ary credit line. “There is no such of­fi­cial po­si­tion,” said Fi­nance Min­is­ter Gikas Har­dou­velis when ques­tioned about a pos­si­ble ex­ten­sion yes­ter­day.

This was sup­ported by gov­ern­ment sources, who pointed out that ex­tend­ing the cur­rent bailout would be too costly po­lit­i­cally but might also not be pos­si­ble as it would need the ap­proval of eu­ro­zone mem­ber par­lia­ments.

Har­dou­velis in­sisted that the re­turn of the troika to Athens in or­der to con­clude the re­view is de­pen­dent on a “po­lit­i­cal decision.”

“If the troika wants, it can be here in a day,” said the fi­nance min­is­ter. “We can go on ne­go­ti­at­ing for six months but we could also have a decision within a day.”

Har­dou­velis spoke yes­ter­day with the head of the Euro Work­ing Group, Thomas Wieser, and IMF rep­re­sen­ta­tives in a bid to move ne­go­ti­a­tions along.

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