Troika tests gov’t nerves

Of­fi­cials try to mend rift over bud­get gap, mea­sures as PM seeks po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials were seek­ing ways to bridge a rift with the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors over the week­end after the bud­get for 2015 was sub­mit­ted to Par­lia­ment with­out the troika’s ap­proval. Sources, how­ever, in­di­cated that Athens would ac­cept no more aus­ter­ity mea­sures and Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras was said to have tele­phoned some of his eu­ro­zone peers in a bid to seek a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion.

“We are fo­cused on try­ing to reach a deal but this will not be done at any cost,” a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial told Kathimerini.

With the troika’s lat­est re­view still sus­pended, Athens has es­sen­tially missed the dead­line for a Eurogroup sum­mit on De­cem­ber 8 when, it had hoped, the coun­try’s post-bailout prospects could be dis­cussed. Now, of­fi­cials in Athens hope an emer­gency sum­mit can be con­vened later in De­cem­ber to dis­cuss the out­look for Greece once the Euro­pean part of its bailout ex­pires at the end of the year. For that to hap­pen, how­ever, the troika’s re­view must re­sume but the gulf be­tween the two sides had not been breached over the week­end. The key point of con­tention re­mains a so-called fis­cal gap for next year, which the troika sees at be­tween 2 and 3 bil­lion euros; Athens, for its part, con­tends that there is no such gap and that au­thor­i­ties will meet a tar­get for a near-bal­anced bud­get.

For an agree­ment to be reached on a post­bailout sce­nario for Greece in time to gain the ap­proval of eu­ro­zone par­lia­ments be­fore they close for the Christ­mas hol­i­days, such a meet­ing would need to be held by De­cem­ber 19 at the lat­est. Still, it re­mained un­cer­tain over the week­end what stance will be taken by the other euro mem­ber states. Greece wants to emerge early from the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund’s arm of the bailout, which is set to end in the spring of 2016, and to re­place the pend­ing loans with a pre­cau­tion­ary credit line com­pris­ing resid­ual fund­ing from the re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion of Greek banks. But some coun­tries, chiefly Ger­many, want the IMF to main­tain an ac­tive role in Greece’s bailout; the Fund it­self will only re­main in­volved un­der terms fore­seen in its own char­ter; and the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank is in fa­vor of a strict pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to sources.

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