Government seeks next targets

With part of bailout tranche paid, coalition turns to next goals on its agenda

Greece on Monday received 34.3 billion euros from its lenders, the first installment of more than 50 billion due over the next few months, but the government’s focus had already moved to tasks that need to be fulfilled in the coming weeks to keep the country’s lenders happy.

The arrival of the loan tranche will allow the government to begin the final phase of bank recapitalization and to begin paying off state arrears of some 9 billion euros, but Prime Minister Antonis Samaras attempted to send a message that the government could not rest.

He met in Athens with the local representatives of 13 multinational companies in a bid to encourage them to invest more in Greece either by moving part of their production here or working with Greek companies. Samaras also asked the businessmen to tell him what steps the government could take to make the environment more investor-friendly.

“I have been in the business for more than 30 years and this is the first time a prime minister has asked to meet with us,” one of the entrepreneurs who took part in the meeting told Kathimerini on condition of anonymity, adding, “It is a very positive move.”

Samaras is this evening due to host his coalition partners, Evangelos Venizelos of PASOK and Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left, to discuss the government’s next moves. Despite completing the “prior actions” the troika demanded to disburse more funding, the coalition must now implement these measures, while also looking to prevent further damage to social cohesion.

A survey conducted by Metron Analysis over the last 12 months and presented to the European Parliament on Monday indicated that 67 percent of Greeks expect things to worsen in the future. A third of households said they are finding it difficult to make ends meet, while 41 percent of young people are thinking about emigrating.

Also today, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is expecting to hear whether the Supreme Court will accept his appeal against a first instance court ruling preventing the emergency property tax from being levied via electricity bills. The tax is vital for revenues and Stournaras wants to avoid changing the method of collection.