NEWS

Greece 'very close' to agreement with troika as talks resume in Athens

Greece is “very close” to an agreement with the troika, according to government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, who was speaking ahead of the resumption of talks between the two sides on Monday afternoon.

Greek government officials are due to begin meetings with troika inspectors in Athens at 4 p.m. The Greek side is hoping to achieve an agreement in principle by the March 10 Eurogroup and to secure the disbursement of 8.8 billion euros in bailout loans by a meeting of eurozone finance ministers due to be held in Athens on April 1.

Among the issues that remain to be settled are the lifting of barriers to competition in several sectors and the reduction of employers’ social security contributions by 3.9 percentage points.

“We are very close to an agreement on both things,” Kedikoglou told Mega TV on Monday morning.

He suggested that the government was ready to make alternative proposals on the issues of fresh milk and non-prescriptions medicines. The troika wants Greece to extend the shelf life of fresh milk and to allow some drugs to be sold in super markets.

Kedikoglou refused to be drawn on the issue of how big Greece’s 2013 primary surplus would be.

“We will see how big it will be,” said the government spokesman. “I am sure that it will exceed most people’s expectations.”

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