Pre­view of IMF hard line

Fund’s re­port calls for more tough la­bor re­forms, ac­tion on closed pro­fes­sions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece got a taste of the tough stance the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund is ex­pected to take dur­ing talks on a sec­ond round of re­forms this fall in a re­port re­leased yes­ter­day in which the Fund un­der­lines the re­forms it ex­pects Greek au­thor­i­ties to push through.

In its re­port, the IMF said it ex­pects the Greek gov­ern­ment to keep in place la­bor mar­ket re­forms car­ried out by the pre­vi­ous con­ser­va­tive-led coali­tion, in­clud­ing the low­er­ing of the min­i­mum wage to 586 eu­ros. The cur­rent min­i­mum monthly wage, which was low­ered from 751 eu­ros by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment in 2012, must re­main in place as it is one of the high­est in the EU based on per capita gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, ac­cord­ing to the IMF. The Fund also wants Greece to align its leg­is­la­tion on la­bor rights with “best prac­tice” in the EU which would make it eas­ier for Greek em­ploy­ers to fire work­ers.

The IMF, which has yet to con­firm its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the coun­try’s third bailout as it waits for re­as­sur­ances of mea­sures to lighten Greece’s debt, also called for ac­tion by Greek au­thor­i­ties on open­ing up closed pro­fes­sions. De­spite years of pres­sure by cred­i­tors on a se­ries of govern­ments, Greece has yet to open up a se­ries of cos­seted oc­cu­pa­tions. The IMF called for pri­or­ity ac­tion as re­gards en­gi­neers, lawyers and dock fork­lift op­er­a­tors. It also urged Greece to adopt rec­om­men­da­tions by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment on over­com­ing barriers to com­pe­ti­tion in sev­eral sec­tors in­clud­ing lo­gis­tics, bak­eries and phar­ma­cies.

The Fund also pushed Greek au­thor­i­ties to take ac­tion to man­age the high rate of non­per­form­ing loans that are bur­den­ing Greek banks. Cyprus, Ire­land, Italy and Por­tu­gal share sim­i­lar prob­lems to Greece with NPLs, the Fund said.

A Euro­pean of­fi­cial in Brus­sels com­mented yes­ter­day that Greece will not be on the agenda of talks for the sec­ond Eurogroup in a row next Mon­day. The of­fi­cial in­di­cated that au­thor­i­ties have not yet fallen be­hind in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­forms but em­pha­sized that “there will be chal­lenges over the sum­mer.”

Sep­a­rately yes­ter­day, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion de­cided to sus­pend the dis­burse­ment of 13.5 mil­lion eu­ros in struc­tural fund­ing for con­struc­tion projects in Greece as it awaits ad­e­quate re­as­sur­ances from Athens that car­tels are not op­er­at­ing in the sec­tor.

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