BUSINESS

Gov’t prepares for ‘American August’

Troika leaves after informal inspection, but Finance Ministry is making plans for the next assessment By Sotiris Nikas

The prior actions that must be completed for the disbursement of the summer’s second bailout sub-tranche and preparations ahead of the tough inspection by the country’s creditors that starts in mid-September are the Finance Ministry’s two main priorities following the completion of the informal monitoring visit by eurozone and International Monetary Fund inspectors.

Minister Gikas Hardouvelis on Wednesday held his last meeting with the heads of the creditors’ representatives to Athens, and a senior ministry official said afterward that “there is a list of issues that we need to speed up on. For us, August will be a month of hard work.”

The same official added that Hardouvelis half-jokingly told the foreign inspectors that “we want the other side to respond. When we send messages we want to get a response. In order to make sure that everyone in Brussels wouldn’t be away on vacation, he told them this will be ‘an American August.’”

Athens has committed to implementing the second batch of prior actions within August for the sub-tranche of 1 billion euros to be unlocked as well as for the Greek side to avoid coming under extra pressure during the September inspection.

Of the six prior actions in the second batch, only the bill on the part-privatization of Public Power Corporation has been voted through Parliament.

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Washington-based IMF said that the troika of representatives has “completed its visit to Athens to examine the recent developments and to discuss with the authorities the work timetable ahead of the full mission for the next revision of the program.”

Sources said that during meetings in Athens the troika encouraged ministers to proceed to the implementation not only of the prior actions for the summer but also the measures that are due for September – which exceed 600 in total.

All key points are to be monitored from September onward. The government will then need to have prepared its proposals for the new social security bill, labor market changes, how the 2015 fiscal gap is to be covered, and generally to have made major progress in its reforms program.

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