State drags feet on debt re­pay­ments

Kathimerini English - - Focus - PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU

The re­pay­ment of state debts to sup­pli­ers and tax­pay­ers con­tin­ues to inch along at a snail’s pace, even though the Greek Fi­nance Min­istry has al­ready re­ceived the fi­nal in­stall­ment for that pur­pose from the Euro­pean Sta­bil­ity Mech­a­nism (ESM).

Ac­cord­ing to min­istry data, the state re­ceived 922.6 mil­lion eu­ros in Au­gust so its var­i­ous agen­cies could pay their debts and meet out­stand­ing pen­sion ap­pli­ca­tions, yet just 185.4 mil­lion eu­ros of that amount has been doled out. This leaves 737.2 mil­lion eu­ros that still needs to go to cash-strapped busi­nesses. When this will hap­pen re­mains a mys­tery, as does whether there will be any in­ter­est af­ter debts and over­due tax re­turns passed the 90-day limit set by the Euro­pean Union.

Data show that the Greek state’s ar­rears climbed to 3.04 bil­lion eu­ros at end-Au­gust from 2.73 bil­lion eu­ros the month be­fore that. The 306mil­lion-euro spike oc­curred de­spite gov­ern­ment pledges – and its com­mit­ment to cred­i­tors – to clear the state’s debts by end-De­cem­ber.

How­ever, the draft state bud­get sub­mit­ted to Par­lia­ment last week makes no men­tion of a plan to clear all of the state’s ar­rears by end-2018. In­stead, it stip­u­lates that state agen­cies need to fur­ther re­duce their debts by the end of the year.

State hos­pi­tal work­ers march in Athens yes­ter­day in protest at spend­ing cuts.

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