Greece: Troika talks to start amid rising political tensions

For the final review of the country's economic reform progress

30 September, 11:41

    Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (L) and Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis (R) Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (L) and Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis (R)

    (ANSAmed) - ATHENS - The fifth, and probably final, review of Greece's economic reform progress by the troika is set to begin with Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis to meet foreign envoys on Tuesday morning while Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos will meet later in the day to discuss strategy in an increasingly tense political climate.

    According to a high-ranking source at the Finance Ministry, as daily Kathimerini online reports, "all issues will be broached" in the meeting between Hardouvelis and the troika mission chiefs which is to start at 11.30 a.m. Troika sources indicated that the agenda of this review would be "heavier" than previous ones, with reports of at least 700 pending actions.

    Hardouvelis' goal - as To Vima online underlines - will be to receive approval for tax cuts and relaxation of program's austerity in 2015, in compliance with Samaras' recent proclamations. To this end, he will argue that the coalition government has exceeded its bailout goal for a third year running and that Greece has the best fiscal performance in the EU.

    Troika envoys are also due to meet on Tuesday with several other key cabinet members including Health Minister Makis Voridis and Environment and Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis.

    Talks with Development Minister Nikos Dendias are scheduled for Wednesday, with Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis to meet the auditors on Thursday.

    The first issue on the agenda of Hardouvelis's talks with the troika is the draft budget, with the two sides expected to disagree about the size of Greece's primary surplus, and discussions about possible measures to plug the gap likely to take place. A consensus will be needed before October 6, when the draft budget is to go to Parliament.

    Mitsotakis's meeting will focus on the 6,500 civil servants who must be dismissed by the end of this year, while Dendias is expected to present the foreign auditors with a proposal for corporate debt arrangement.

    As troika envoys hold talks with the various ministers today, Samaras and Venizelos are to meet in the afternoon in a bid to finalize the government's strategy and their so-called "red lines" in negotiations. The talks come as political tensions peak amid mounting speculation about early elections as the ruling coalition appears unable to garner the necessary 180 votes in the 300-seat Parliament to back its candidate for president in February when the term of incumbent Karolos Papoulias ends.(ANSAmed).

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