ECONOMY

Date of troika’s return to Athens still hangs in balance

A European Union official with knowledge of Greece’s negotiations with the troika has told Kathimerini that there are still substantial differences to be resolved between the two sides before inspectors can return to Athens.

The Greek government wants the troika to return so that the differences can be resolved in Athens but Greece’s lenders are reluctant to return until there is common ground between the two sides.

The coalition is concerned that if the review does not resume this week there will be little chance of it being completed by the December 8 Eurogroup. The government is hoping that with the program review out of the way by then, it can focus on agreeing post-bailout terms with the eurozone, including a precautionary credit line.

The Finance Ministry has entered the last phase of drafting the final version of the 2015 national budget but the fiscal gap for next year remains a sticking point with the troika.

Greece’s lenders estimate the shortfall for 2015 at around 3.6 billion euros but Athens believes it is much smaller. The ministry has to submit the budget by Friday but if will need to settle its differences with the troika over the fiscal gap before then.

According to sources, the budget will set a budget primary surplus target of 3 percent of GDP, which will be achieved with the help of changes at public organizations that will save between 500 million and 1 billion euros.