NEWS

Government appears upbeat on progress of bailout review

Labor Minister Efi Achtsioglou arrives at an Athens hotel for a meeting with bailout monitors.

TAGS: Politics, Economy, EU

Government officials were upbeat on Thursday about the progress of negotiations with foreign bailout monitors, noting that any issues that have arisen have been effectively tackled by technical teams without the need to seek a political solution as has been the case in the past.

“There are signs of political will from all sides for the negotiation to be completed quickly and efficiently,” one government source said.

So far there do not appear to be any indications of a budget gap next year, sources, said, adding that this year’s budget – and a projected primary surplus – will top the agenda of talks on Friday.

One issue that was resolved on Thursday concerned Greek trade unions, with government officials agreeing on new regulations that will require at least half of trade union members to back any call for strike action, rather than a third, as the law currently states.

Government sources are said to be optimistic about the current bailout review being completed by the end of the year. There are said to be some concerns, however, about more politically taxing reforms, such as changes to the labor market and the privatization of the Public Power Corporation and gas grid operator DESFA.

In comments during a visit to Ioannina in northwestern Greece on Thursday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised tax relief for Greeks on low and middle incomes at the end of 2018, noting that all signs point toward the required “fiscal space” being created to allow the handouts.

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