Crisis: Greece, government in race against time

Urgent reforms to obtain loan, risk of empty coffers

11 October, 15:28

(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, OCTOBER 11 - The Greek government has little time left to obtain 31.5 billion euros in aid. In two months, state coffers risk to remain empty, as the Greek premier recently told Handelsblatt. 'Without the new tranche, money in the Greek state coffers will be sufficient only until November', said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The new tranche requires a small effort by the government.

It must 'close' a package of austerity measures ahead of the next European summit scheduled on October 18 and must do what Greece has not done in the past two years by that date.

In order to obtain the last tranche of aid, Athens must implement structural reforms requested by international creditors.

According to representatives of the troika - Germany's Matthias Mors (EU) and Claus Mazuch (ECB) and Denmark's Paul Tomsen (IMF) - the necessary structural reforms, some small others more significant, are 89 including a new fiscal system, the privatization of state companies, the liberalization of professions, changing contracts in the private sector, the abolition or merger of useless state agencies. The government says most are ready to be implemented while the other ones could be defined after October 18, ahead of the concession of the last tranche of aid.

Greek citizens harbor doubts over the government's will or ability to implement them given they have not passed the reforms so far. Another difficulty is that Greece has its first coalition government since the fall of the colonels' regime in 1974. It is formed by three parties - Nea Dimokratia (centre-right), Pasok (Socialist) and the Democratic Left - which are divided by very different political positions, a problem for the government's cohesion.

A first sign of this occurred yesterday in Parliament when Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis was forced to withdraw for the second time in a week an amendment to a law concerning the abolition of businesses' aid for the institute of public housing as Pasok and Democratic Left MPs refused to vote it.

The problem was even more visible after criticism from Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos concerning the outcome of a visit to Athens of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Venizelos said there were 'no concrete results' though he conceded the visit had been important.

He also accused Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the Democratic Left, for the absence of the three majority leaders at an official lunch given by Samaras for Merkel at which the Pasok leader had announced he intended to participate to discuss 'all three together' the problems of the country. A left-wing faction of Pasok has also asked that the party withdraw from the government coalition. Analysts say such incidents are very worrying as they are occurring just a few days ahead of a vote in parliament on new austerity measures. (ANSAmed)
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