Quick ac­tion needed to un­lock loans

Gov’t, cred­i­tors still at odds on many is­sues but break­through needed by mid­week

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos con­ceded yes­ter­day that dif­fer­ences re­main be­tween Greece and its cred­i­tors as it be­came clear that the gov­ern­ment faces a moun­tain of work if it is to clinch res­cue loans.

To se­cure the re­lease of the first tranche from its new bailout, Greece must im­ple­ment dozens of prior ac­tions by the mid­dle of next week. The Euro Work­ing Group is to con­vene on Thurs­day and de­cide whether to rec- om­mend the re­lease of 2 bil­lion eu­ros. If it does so, Greece should get the money in early Novem­ber.

Greek of­fi­cials must also pre­pare a sec­ond multi-bill of mea­sures, in­clud­ing in­creases to taxes on farm­ers and a pen­sion sys­tem over­haul. The sec­ond raft of mea­sures is linked to an­other 1 bil­lion eu­ros in loans. But there are sev­eral stick­ing points. One is the is­sue of ex­pired debts: Cred­i­tors want to make the frame­work stricter. The two sides are also at odds over fore­clo­sures for main res­i­dences, as the gov­ern­ment wants the pro­tec­tion level for re­pos­ses­sions to be at least 200,000 eu­ros in terms of ob­jec­tive value (prop­erty rates used for tax pur­poses) while lenders want a much lower thresh­old.

A gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to sack Gen­eral Sec­re­tar­iat for Pub­lic Rev­enues head Ka­te­rina Sav­vaidou was not on the talks agenda but is said to have caused ire. Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokes­woman An­nika Brei­dthardt said of­fi­cials were seek­ing “clar­i­fi­ca­tions,” not­ing that Greece has pledged to im­prov­ing tax col­lec­tion.

Once a com­pro­mise is reached, and MPs ap­prove a sec­ond raft of prior ac­tions, cred­i­tors can carry out a re­view that could pave the way for talks on debt re­lief. Greek of­fi­cials must also fi­nal­ize the 2016 bud­get and a new midterm pro­gram by Novem­ber 21.

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