NEWS

Greece contemplates extra measures but hopes primary surplus will help its cause

TAGS: Politics, Economy

The Greek government is prepared to accept that it might have to agree to adopt further measures in the future to complete the current bailout review but also feels that the 2015 primary surplus figures due to be published on Thursday will strengthen its argument that more fiscal interventions are not needed.

A high-ranking government official told Kathimerini that there is no way Athens would accept legislating another 2.7 billion euros in measures now so they can be triggered automatically if Greece is not on course to meet its 2018 primary surplus target of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product.

However, the official, who preferred to remain anonymous, indicated that the government might accept committing to the adoption of extra measures that would be detailed and passed through Parliament at a later date.

Speaking during a regular press briefing on Tuesday, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said that the coalition does not have a clear idea of what Greece’s creditors are proposing with respect to the contingency measures.

It is expected that the government will argue against the need for agreeing standby measures due to the Greek economy and public finances performing better than expected.

Kathimerini understands that the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) will announce on Thursday that the 2015 primary surplus was between 1.1 and 1.2 billion euros, or 0.6 to 0.7 percent of GDP. Sources said that the European Commission’s statistical arm, Eurostat, has already rubber-stamped the data.

Athens sees these as a useful addition to its armory in the bailout negotiations as the International Monetary Fund’s calculations are based on its forecast that Greece produced a 0.5 percent of GDP deficit last year.

The government hopes that the primary surplus figure will strengthen its argument that there is no need for Athens to pass contingency measures now.

The government put two pieces of draft legislation up for public consultation on Tuesday – one outlining its proposal for reform of the pension system and the other detailing its blueprint for an overhaul of the income tax system.

The publication of the bills came as negotiations resumed between Greek and European officials and is said to have irked the foreign auditors, appearing as a kind of unilateral action.

Despite the reservations, some senior European officials indicated on Tuesday that a deal between Greece and its lenders was within reach.

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said the first review of Greece’s bailout could be completed “in a very short time” as long as all sides were prepared to make “a final push.”

He said auditors were using the Commission’s figures as a baseline scenario, adding that additional contingency measures would be considered “in case the more pessimistic IMF scenario were to materialize.”

IMF officials are to join the negotiations in Athens on Wednesday following Tuesday’s talks which were between Greek and European officials.

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