Min­is­ters and en­voys dis­cuss bud­get, ac­tions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos and Econ­omy Min­is­ter Gior­gos Stathakis had their first meet­ing yesterday with the en­voys rep­re­sent­ing Greece’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors in Athens. They dis­cussed the state of the bud­get, the out­look for the fur­ther re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion of Greek banks and a con­tro­ver­sial pri­va­ti­za­tion fund into which Athens has pledged to trans­fer 50 bil­lion eu­ros of as­sets.

“There was con­ver­gence on some is­sues, and less con­ver­gence on oth­ers,” Tsakalo­tos told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing, which was held at the cen­tral Athens ho­tel where the en­voys are stay­ing and lasted around six hours. The talks took place in “a very good cli­mate” and will con­tinue, he said.

Both sides are hop­ing to wrap up ne­go­ti­a­tions by Au­gust 11, which would al­low plenty of time for the fi­nal­iza­tion of a third bailout, its rat­i­fi­ca­tion by var­i­ous eu­ro­zone par­lia­ments and the dis­burse­ment of aid to Greece, which must meet a debt re­pay­ment of 3.2 bil­lion eu­ros to the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank on Au­gust 20.

Cred­i­tors have sug­gested that Greece would need to leg­is­late a third set of so-called prior ac­tions to se­cure the re­lease of fur­ther fund­ing, while gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials counter that an agree­ment with lenders does not call for more mea­sures.

A key is­sue dis­cussed yesterday was the state of Greece’s fi­nances. Cred­i­tors want Greece to record a pri­mary sur­plus tar­get of 3.5 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct by 2018. But as the coun­try is ex­pected to plunge into a re­ces­sion of up to 3 per­cent this year, achiev­ing this tar­get will be dif­fi­cult with­out ad­di­tional aus­ter­ity mea­sures.

Another key con­cern is the re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion of Greece’s cash-strapped lenders who have been hard hit by a wave of de­posit with­drawals, an ex­tended bank hol­i­day and cap­i­tal con­trols.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, a spokesper­son for the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion said that calls by the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund for debt re­lief for Greece were “fully com­pat­i­ble” with the Euro­pean agenda for ne­go­ti­at­ing a third bailout.

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