Talks with troika resume in Athens as compromise sought over fiscal gap

Greece resumes talks with the troika on Monday with doubts remaining about whether an agreement on the projected size of the country’s fiscal gap can be achieved before the December 9 Eurogroup.

The first stop for troika officials is the office of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Monday morning. This comes after government officials spent the weekend in meetings preparing for the troika’s return and discussions about the fiscal gap.

Sources told Kathimerini that the target is now around 1.5 billion euros but that the troika wants spending cuts to be used to help meet this goal. Athens believes that the target can be achieved through savings from structural reforms.

Savings of around 600 million could be made from adjustments to the social security system, the government believes. Another 50 million savings would come from stricter implementation of the unified public sector pay structure. Improvements to the tax administration and the further liberalization of the economy will also produce results, the Finance Ministry argues.

Beyond that, the final version of the 2014 budget, due to be submitted to Parliament on Thursday, foresees a primary surplus of 780 million rather than 344 million initially forecast.