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European Commission sets out next targets

The European Commission praised Greece on Friday for making “delayed but substantive progress” with structural reforms and producing a “strong” fiscal performance but also set the government some pressing deadlines this summer.

In its fourth review of the Greek adjustment program, Brussels identified a number of positives but also made it clear that Athens will not be allowed to let up. “It is essential to ensure that the ambitious reform agenda is fully implemented to close any remaining fiscal gaps,” the Commission said in its report.

Apart from referring to the better-than-expected 2013 primary surplus of 1.5 billion euros, under the troika’s calculations, the Commission also said that Greece is on track to meet its fiscal targets this year.

Brussels sees the economy growing this year for the first time since 2008, by 0.6 percent of gross domestic product. Nevertheless, 7.7 billion euros of new fiscal measures will have to be adopted between 2015 and 2017.

The more immediate concern for the government will be the prior actions that the Commission wants Greece to complete before it receives the next bailout installments of 1 billion euros each in June and July.

Troika officials are due back in Athens in June to check on the coalition’s progress, although a full review of the adjustment program will not begin until August.

Among the reforms being demanded by Greece’s lenders are giving the TAIPED privatization fund a greater role in the public organizations that are to be sold off, strengthening legislation against tax evasion and adopting a new law governing the funding of political parties.

These reforms have to be completed by the end of June, along with the scrapping of nuisance, or parafiscal, charges that raise revenues for auxiliary pension funds.

The government also has a range of targets to hit by the end of September. These include drafting the 2015 budget with new fiscal measures, passing legislation that will link civil servants’ pay to their performance and submitting a plan for a new overhaul of the pension system.

ekathimerini.com , Friday April 25, 2014 (19:06)  
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