Pri­mary sur­plus break ruled out

Moscovici calls for swift con­clu­sion of all out­stand­ing is­sues by the year’s end, in­clud­ing IMF par­tic­i­pa­tion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY SOTIRIS NIKAS

Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Fi­nance Pierre Moscovici yes­ter­day poured cold wa­ter on Athens’s hopes for lower pri­mary sur­plus tar­gets up to 2018, mak­ing it clear dur­ing his visit to Athens that ev­ery­thing (the bailout review, debt talks and In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund par­tic­i­pa­tion) must be con­cluded by Christ­mas, and ar­gu­ing that the in­clu­sion of the IMF in the coun­try’s third bailout is in every­one’s best in­ter­est.

The French com­mis­sioner was quite clear about the pri­mary sur­plus is­sue, which the gov­ern­ment sees as cru­cial: “I would pro­pose that this dis­cus­sion does not re­open,” Moscovici said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about the Com­mis­sion’s po­si­tion on cut­ting tar­gets for 2019 and 2020. Re­fer­ring to Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos, Moscovici noted that he “is very fa­mil­iar with the frame­work of the pro- gram, in­clud­ing the fis­cal tar­gets.”

His com­ments came af­ter meet­ings with Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras and the min­is­ters of Fi­nance, Econ­omy and La­bor. It ap­pears the gov­ern­ment has re­ceived the mes­sage, as Tsakalo­tos said that the level of the pri­mary sur­plus tar­gets is linked to mea­sures for the debt and the IMF’s par­tic­i­pa­tion.

It ap­pears, how­ever, that the gov­ern­ment will only ac­cept this dis­cus­sion be­ing post­poned un­til a later date. In this con­text, Tsakalo­tos said the ad­justed midterm fis­cal plan for 2017-2020 – which should have been tabled in May – re­mains un­der dis­cus­sion. Min­istry of­fi­cials say the plan will be tabled when the gov­ern­ment is ready. Athens will not be sub­mit­ting the pro­posal in Par­lia­ment yet, as it wants lower tar­gets for the pri­mary sur­pluses of 2019 and 2020, on which the eu­ro­zone dis­agrees.

In the meet­ings with Moscovici, the gov­ern­ment also ad­dressed the 1.1053 is­sue of the pro­gram’s man­age­ment. Tsakalo­tos ar­gued that there is a con­tra­dic­tion when the cred­i­tors seek ab­so­lute con­trol over the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the pro­gram down to the last de­tail, while urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to claim own­er­ship of it. It is clear that Athens is seek­ing more free­dom over the pro­gram’s ex­e­cu­tion without di­gress­ing from its tar­gets. Tsakalo­tos said six or seven bills will be drafted in that di­rec­tion – to which Moscovici is not op­posed – af­ter the sum­mer.

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