The Finance Ministry is hard at work to ensure that the current inspection by the country’s creditors is completed by the Eurogroup meeting of January 26, as chief inspectors are expected in the country early next month, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said on Monday.
Hardouvelis was speaking after a meeting hosted by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with his inner cabinet aimed at the optimum coordination of the tasks at hand and to push forward issues that remain to be settled between Athens and the country’s lenders.
The issues the government must still agree with the troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are numerous and of great significance, as illustrated by the troika report attached to the Greek demand for a two-month extension of the Greek bailout program. At the same time, technical experts from the troika are continuing their inspection of fiscal progress and are reported to be leaving tomorrow.
The ministry is operating on the scenario that political developments will allow for the troika to return at the start of 2015. The open issues, as shown by the troika report, are 15 in number, the most important of which concern the execution of the 2015 budget and an overhaul of the social security system.
The troika insists there is a fiscal gap in the 2015 budget, while sources say the IMF is also raising the possibility of a fiscal gap in 2016 as well. The creditors also insist that measures Athens has proposed for future adoption as a safety net for the budget be adopted immediately. The ministry, on the other hand, stresses that the fiscal issue will be resolved without any additional measures, as the troika will ultimately be convinced of the Greek proposals.
In an interview with financial newspaper Naftemporiki, Hardouvelis warned yesterday that “the scenario of a Greek exit from the eurozone could be pushed by some in the bloc in the case that extreme anti-European voices prevail in Greece.” He added that “in an election battle many accidents can happen and we should act to prevent them.”