BUSINESS

Optimism for a swift agreement with the creditors

EIRINI CHRYSOLORA, ROULA SALOUROU

Labor and Social Security Minister Effie Achtsioglou

TAGS: Finance

Greek officials involved in the talks with the country’s creditors in Athens have expressed optimism that a staff-level agreement could be reached as early as on Saturday, so that it can be ratified by next Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting.

If those expectations are met, the government will receive a list of prior actions that remain outstanding and have to be fulfilled by the June 21 Eurogroup. This will be a new race against time, in the context of which Athens intends to submit another omnibus bill to Parliament within June for the milestones that need legislative intervention, sources say.

After Friday’s round of talks at the Hilton hotel, the issue of arbitration remained open on the labor front. It was agreed that the right to unilateral recourse to arbitration will be preserved, but the definition of the conditions for that remains pending. In this context talks are focusing on strengthening the mediation process so that arbitration is not as easy to resort to.

The government appeared on Friday to achieve its objectives on the issuing of outstanding pensions, although certain technical issues remained open regarding the recalculation of pensions, for which the creditors agreed to allow more time.

There was also an agreement on the mechanism for the sector-specific collective labor contracts to be representative, as, according to Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou, it was accepted that this could be monitored by the Ergani hirings database.

Also pending is the determination of the income limit for receiving housing benefits, to apply as of January 2019. It will likely range around 8,000-8,500 euros per annum, increasing according to the number of household members to a maximum of 25,000 euros.

The credit sector was also discussed during Friday’s talks, and Kathimerini understands that some distance remains between the government and the lenders on the changes to be introduced to legislation protecting debtors, known as the Katseli Law, especially regarding the criteria for enjoying the protection.

Online