ECONOMY

Greece and troika ‘miles apart’ on fiscal gap and measures, says EU official

BRUSSELS – Greece and the troika are still “miles apart, billions apart” in terms of agreeing the size of the fiscal gap for next year and the measures needed to bridge it, a European Union official told journalists in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon when commenting on the current talks between Athens and its lenders.

The same official said it was out of the question that eurozone finance ministers would take a decision on the disbursement of Greece’s next loan tranche at the upcoming Eurogroups, on Thursday and Friday, November 22. He added that it was unlikely that the latest review of Greece’s adjustment program would be completed by the time of the December Eurogroup.

The EU official suggested that the current slow progress in talks between the two sides meant that decisions regarding Greece would probably be taken after the “skiing holidays,” which are usually taken in February.

The EU source indicated there is discontent and concern among Greece’s lenders that the Athens has yet to complete its “prior actions” and secure the release of its next bailout tranche, worth 1 billion euros. The official also said that no decision can be taken on covering the Greek program’s financing gap for 2014 if the budget for next year is not settled.

There is also concern in Brussels that the delay in completing the review is further starving the Greek economy of liquidity as the state is not pay off its arrears, thereby damaging chances of growth.

Finally, the EU official said that the discussion regarding further debt relief for Greece would begin in June, when lenders will now exactly how big the 2013 primary surplus was.