ECONOMY

Athens, creditors at odds on TAIPED

athens-creditors-at-odds-on-taiped

The government and its creditors were on Tuesday at odds over the legal status, revenues and role of privatization fund TAIPED, which is to be transformed into a hyper-fund with the aim of collecting 50 billion euros in revenues over the next three decades.

“There has been convergence on certain points and disagreements on others. We will examine them and return to them,” Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos stated after yesterday’s round of talks he participated in with the representatives of the European Commission, the European Stability Mechanism, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Athens.

Tsakalotos tried to play down the differences between the two sides, saying, “I did not get the impression that there is a substantial problem or that a major disagreement could emerge from those sticky points.” He added that Wednesday’s meeting will end this round of talks on the subject and should show which issues remain open and what obstacles may be raised.

The minister described the legal status of the fund as “a minor problem,” while stressing the significance of the combination of TAIPED’s original privatization program with the new, larger mandate it will have as a hyper-fund. “This is the main thing that is worrying us,” he commented.

The two sides also appear to be weighing the creation of a new hyper-fund instead of upgrading TAIPED as agreed by the eurozone summit agreement of July 13. Some people are saying that if a new fund is created from scratch it will require much more time and add to the delays in the sell-off program, while others argue that this may not be the case. Upgrading TAIPED would minimize the delays, while the fund has already been upgraded several times since 2011 without its function being affected.

The other issue which is a concern mainly for the creditors is the fund’s independence. The quartet of lenders are demanding the appointment of a management with technical skills and free from political party affiliations. The creditors will also seek an explicit statement of support for the fund’s work by the government, as was also the case with TAIPED and the previous government.