ECONOMY

Gov’t faces Monday deadline in talks

The government is engaged in painstaking efforts to complete negotiations with the representatives of its creditors ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup meeting in order to secure approval for the disbursement of a 8.1-billion-euro bailout tranche.

On Tuesday Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the troika of representatives from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund had repeated meetings with various ministers until late in the night in a bid to agree on the measures concerning each ministry.

The Commission rushed on Tuesday to refute a Reuters report according to which Athens had been given a three-day ultimatum to Friday to pass its troika test otherwise it would face “serious consequences.” Still, sources in Brussels have told Kathimerini that the government is under serious pressure to satisfy all requirements by Monday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers, as the atmosphere at the Euro Working Group of finance ministry officials was particularly negative for Athens. Some participants insisted that “Greece only sticks to the fiscal side of the program and has been neglecting the structural one.”

Back in Athens, there was significant progress on Tuesday in the troika’s talks with the Health Ministry regarding the deficit of the National Healthcare Provision Organization (EOPYY). The two sides agreed there is no scope for any further cuts in the health sector, but the deficit will be covered via a claw-back process from private healthcare units. “We have announced the claw-back measure that will apply for diagnostic centers and private clinics,” said Minister Adonis Georgiadis, referring to the amount of 450-600 million euros of excessive spending by private healthcare units that EOPYY will not cover.

The troika also introduced changes to the procedure for group layoffs in its talks with Greece’s labor minister on Tuesday. The creditors are insisting that the new system will have to become more flexible, dissociate the Labor Ministry from the approval or rejection of group layoffs and involve the finance minister in the issue. These changes, set to apply from 2014, will improve business sentiment and attract new funds, the troika claimed.