ECONOMY

Task force gets down to work

Horst Reichenbach, head of a European Union special task force that will coordinate technical assistance to Greece, arrived in Athens for the first time Tuesday and met with the ministers of finance, Evangelos Venizelos, and development, Michalis Chrysochoidis.

?We would not be here if we didn?t believe that Greece is capable of pulling through,? he said before meeting with Venizelos. ?Our job is to support the Greeks so that they complete the program they have agreed to through technical assistance. The most important job for me is to coordinate this assistance and bring a sign of hope to the Greeks.?

The task force will work closely with the Greek authorities and other EU member states to coordinate the technical assistance that Greece may need in order to be able to deliver programs worked out with the EU and the International Monetary Fund. The assistance will target the attainment of fiscal targets, fighting tax evasion, as well as the promotion of reforms in fields such as education and health. The task force will submit quarterly reports to the Commission and Greek authorities. The first report, to be submitted at the end of October, will concern the speeding up of the absorption of European Union investment subsidies and tax evasion.

Chrysochoidis said, ?The task force can have a decisive impact on the better utilization of EU investment subsidies and the creation of a new model of growth for the country.?

Sources said that the government is expected to launch initiatives on the privatizations front on Monday and herald moves regarding an integrated pay structure in the public sector, in an effort to show Greece?s creditors that it intends to delay the required structural changes no more. It is considered likely that the renewal of the concession of Athens International Airport to Germany?s Hochtief group has already been finalized.

This morning Reichenbach will attend an event organized at the Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel, titled ?Recovery Now — A Herculean Task for Greece.? Other participants include German Euro-MP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, the prime minister?s adviser on European affairs, Giorgos Glynos, and Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen, vice president of the European Investment Bank.