By Sotiris Nikas
The representatives of Greece’s creditors made sure before departing last weekend to leave a list of outstanding issues that must be settled before their return to Athens, Finance Ministry officials said on Wednesday.
The inspectors of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – known as the troika – have asked the ministry to speed up procedures for six specific actions. The list had a four-page note attached to it, prepared by the technical experts, with details of what must be done by the end of the month, the earliest date for the troika’s return.
The first order by the troika concerns the drafting of the 2014 budget, with inspectors estimating that the shortfall will amount to 2.5 billion euros, against a government estimate for 500 million euros. Ministry officials expect the estimates of the two sides to converge on 1 billion euros in the end, and note that Athens has made two proposals for measures and is awaiting the troika’s response.
The government will also have to revise its midterm fiscal plan, to determine the size of the fiscal gap by 2017, as well as the sectors that will contribute to its coverage.
Then Athens will need to revise its privatizations program for 2014. The revenues target is yet to be determined, but should range between 3.5 and 4 billion euros in order to avoid any further problems in the Greek bailout program. The question is how these revenues will be secured.
Another issue is the hole in the funding of the social security funds, whose size has brought a pension cut back to the table.
The fifth order by the troika concerns the implementation of prior actions for the tranche of 1 billion euros; this mostly concerns the restructuring of loans for defense industries EAS and ELVO and the Larco mining firm.
Finally, the government must decide upon interventions to bring the economy back on the road to growth. The troika has asked for a set of specific measures to rekindle economic activity and combat unemployment.