Representatives of Greece’s international creditors ended their exploratory talks in Athens on Friday with serious reservations about a series of policies being promoted by the government, including some heralded by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Thessaloniki last week, while they concluded that only half the prior actions tied to the next tranche of 2.8 billion euros have been implemented.
A high-ranking official of the Finance Ministry conceded that plans to protect businesses’ bank accounts from being seized by tax authorities will not go ahead and instead the government will offer more incentives for the use of credit card transactions.
Another serious concern voiced by foreign inspectors, and particularly by the representative of the International Monetary Fund, relates to proposals by the Education Ministry for a more complicated process in the dismissal of teachers at Greek private schools.
The two sides also failed to see eye to eye on Greek proposals for immunity from prosecution to be granted to Greeks who return undeclared income from abroad and for the freezing of social security contributions owed by self-employed professionals, both measures that were declared by Tsipras in Thessaloniki last weekend.
The composition of the supervisory board of a new privatization fund was another bone of contention in negotiations. Greek officials described the hitch as “technicalities” that would soon be overcome.
French Finance Ministry sources indicated last week that Jacques Le Pape, a former aide to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, might head up the fund. But Greek government officials have not confirmed this and there are said to have been disagreements between the two sides.
Government sources indicated on Friday that a new multi-bill bundling together a total of 15 prior actions demanded for the 2.8 billion euros will go to Parliament in the coming days.
Greece’s progress will be assessed at a Euro Working Group scheduled for September 29.