FinMin to broach debt, VAT in talks with Eurogroup chief [UPDATE]

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of the eurozone finance ministers, was in Athens on Friday for talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

The Dutch finance minister met Samaras at 1 p.m. and entered talks with Stournaras at 3 p.m. after which the two ministers were to give a joint press conference.

In a televised exchange ahead of talks between Dijsselbloem and Samaras, the former said he expected a large number of Dutch tourists to visit Greece this year, prompting the premier to note that authorities expected a record year for the crucial tourism sector with some 17 million anticipated arrivals.

In his talks with the Eurogroup chief, Stournaras was expected to broach Greece’s request for a lowering of a 23 percent value added tax rate on restaurants and tavernas, a crucial component of the country’s tourism sector.

The issue of a possible haircut to Greek debt as well as the progress of Greece’s reform efforts were also high on the agenda of talks.

Dijsselbloem’s visit comes amid reports of strengthened confidence in the eurozone. In Greece, the first eurozone state to be bailed out and heading for its sixth straight year of recession, sentiment climbed to a five-year high in May.