ECONOMY

Smooth start to talks with troika on Sunday

The September round of talks between Greece and the inspectors of its creditors opened smoothly on Sunday afternoon, with convergence recorded between the two sides after virtually all issues came on the table.

“We opened almost all fronts,” a senior Finance Ministry official told Kathimerini after the meeting the heads of the troika – i.e. the missions from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – had with Minister Yannis Stournaras and other officials.

The same official added that the views of the two sides converged as far as the macroeconomic scenario for Greek economy is concerned, particularly the forecast for this year’s recession and the return to growth in 2014. The troika and the ministry are said to be close to agreeing on the primary result of this year’s budget, without ruling out the recording of a primary surplus.

The main issues of the talks included the execution of the 2013 budget, the plans for the 2014 budget, the efficiency of the tax collection mechanism, the settlement of state arrears, structural changes and the prior actions left for the disbursement of the tranche of 1 billion euros next month, with negotiations focusing particularly on the repayment of the arrears of water companies EYDAP and EYATH. The same senior official said that repayment to the two utilities will be completed by the end of the week (September 27).

There was no talk, however, on the issue of the fiscal gap for the 2015-2016 period, with a high-level ministry source saying that the two sides intend to discuss this after the October 14 Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers.