New proposals on way to troika
Greece expected to give ground on VAT hikes and changes to pension system to allow review to continue
The troika is set to decide today if it is satisfied with a range of proposals it has received from the Greek government aimed at overcoming differences between the two sides and paving the way for inspectors to return to Athens to complete the pending review.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos met for more than two hours yesterday to discuss which of the troika’s demands the government would agree to.
Greece’s lenders have asked for the government to find measures that would cover a 2015 fiscal gap of between 2 and 3 billion euros, to change the value-added tax brackets, to reform the pension system and to make changes to the recent law allowing up to 100 installments for tax arrears.
“The government must swiftly take all the necessary measures so that the ongoing program is complete,” European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said yesterday in Brussels.
“There is a lot going on,” said Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis as he left the Maximos Mansion after talks with Samaras and Venize- los, who chose not to make any comments.
Kathimerini understands that that the proposals the Greek side was preparing to send yesterday would include moving some products and services from the lowest VAT rate of 6.5 percent to the next bracket of 13 percent. The government, however, is mindful that this should not affect medicines and other products that are considered basic needs.
Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis was also drafting changes to the pension system. These are likely to include increasing the minimum number of days of insured work that someone will have to complete before qualifying for a state pension. Currently, it is 4,500 days but this will increase to 6,500.
The proposals will also put an end to exemptions that allow some Greeks, such as female civil servants, mothers of young children, bank and public organization employees, to claim pensions early. Kathimerini understands that the new regime would prevent anyone retiring before they have reached the age of 62. It is estimated that this would affect some 100,000 people who could claim early retirement.