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Greece has long list of bailout actions still pending

Greece is behind in the implementation of 153 actions demanded by its lenders, according to a timetable compiled by the Finance Ministry, Kathimerini has learned.

Of the outstanding actions, 57 are the responsibility of the Finance Ministry, 17 fall to the Development Ministry, another 17 to the Labor Ministry and eight to the Administrative Reform Ministry. The rest are divided among other ministries.

Among the Finance Ministry’s key tasks is to scrap third-party levies. It has sent a proposal on this to the troika and is waiting for a response. For the Development Ministry, one of the main goals is to implement the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) proposals for removing barriers to competition, also known as the tool-kit. The Administrative Reform Ministry still has 12,500 civil servants to place in a mobility scheme. More than 7,000 of these will come from positions being scrapped at healthcare provider EOPYY. For the Labor Ministry, reducing social security contributions and changing regulations on mass dismissals are among the outstanding items.

A number of the actions have yet to be completed as the government remains in discussions with the troika about the measures. Inspectors are expected to return to Athens later this month but a date has not yet been fixed.

Greece has proposed adopting about 80 percent of the OECD’s competition-enhancing proposals and is waiting for a response from its lenders. The OECD has identified 555 regulatory restrictions which it says undermine competition and cost just over 5 billion euros. It made 329 recommendations on legal provisions that should be amended or repealed.

OECD official Anna Thiemann, who was the project manager for the organization’s competition assessment review in Greece, told Sunday’s Kathimerini that Greeks would be able to see the positive effect of the interventions within five years.

She rejected claims that the sale of over-the-counter medicines in supermarkets would threaten the role of pharmacies, saying they would still have a “vital role” to play in selling prescription medicines and providing customers with medical advice. Thiemann admitted, though, that extending the shelf life of fresh milk from the current five days would result in some small farms having to pool resources or being bought out by competitors.

“In a competitive market there are winners and losers,” she said. “This is natural and positive. Efficiency will only improve if you let the inefficient companies fail. Greece needs its industry to become efficient and competitive.”

ekathimerini.com , Saturday February 1, 2014 (18:30)  
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