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PM, Venizelos to discuss troika pressures for reform, delayed return

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos are to meet at 6 p.m. on Friday for talks expected to focus on pending reforms pledged to the troika and the delay in the envoys' return to Athens.

The meeting comes just a few hours after a International Monetary Fund official said he did not known of an exact date that the Fund would be sending its envoy back to Athens to meet his counterpart from the European Commission and European Central Bank for the resumption of talks with the Greek government.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Friday, after talks with Samaras at the Maximos Mansion, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras rebuffed media reports according to which the troika is demanding more austerity measures. "It's an ongoing and tough negotiation which is to be expected as we are reaching the end of the program," Stournaras said, adding that troika officials are not seeking new measures. "There is no reason to worry," he said.

One cause for concern, however, is a leaked letter from the troika to Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, calling on Greece to adopt dozens of recommendations made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for removing regulations that distort competition.

"We share the OECD view that the reforms in the sectors of building materials, food processing, retail and tourism will yield substantial benefits," the troika note in one extract of the letter, adding that the estimated benefit of the measures to Greek consumers would be around 5.2 billion euros every year. The authors of the note conclude, "We cannot see how the current review could be completed without a very convincing implementation of the OECD recommendations."

ekathimerini.com , Friday Jan 24, 2014 (11:10)  
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