Troika puts pressure on sell-offs

Creditors insist on acceleration of privatizations projects for the shortfall in revenues to be covered in 2014 By Vangelis Mandravelis

The troika of Greece’s creditors on Monday exercised strong pressure on the state privatization fund (TAIPED) to speed up the country’s sell-off projects.

During a meeting at TAIPED’s headquarters, the mission chiefs of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund called for more action so that this year’s revenue shortfall, amounting to 1 billion euros, can be covered in 2014.

At the troika’s focus were the privatizations of ports, water and sewage companies, and Hellenic Post. According to plans drawn up in January, these sell-off projects should have started in the second quarter of the year, while the aim now is for them to get started in the last quarter, given that the third will be over in a week’s time.

The troika was also updated about delays in the utilization of real estate, and mainly that in the development of Athens old international airport at Elliniko, which is the biggest project in the privatizations package.

The Greek side again cited problems related to the nature of the properties for sale, saying they require a kind of “maturing” before they begin to attract investor interest. TAIPED officials also cited the differing views among the various authorities, with ports being the best such example as their privatization should have started in July.

The fund’s management also presented a list of more than 25 pending legislative and regulatory issues that must be settled before the privatization procedures can begin.

One of these issues was settled just hours before the troika’s arrival in Athens, as the Infrastructure Ministry repaid the debts of the Greek state to Athens water company EYDAP. Last Friday Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis had tabled an amendment in Parliament allowing for the payment of the approximately 600 million euros owed to EYDAP by the state.

The troika has reportedly agreed on the appointment of Constantinos Maniatopoulos, a former European Commission official, as the new TAIPED president. His appointment is set to be announced shortly.