NEWS

Troika scours Greek finances

Officials representing Greece’s three creditors – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – known collectively as the troika – indicated on Monday that the country was on the right track with reforms aimed at reviving the beleaguered economy but needs to push through new laws without delay.

The officials, who are in Athens for an in-depth assessment of the country?s finances that will determine whether or not Greece receives the fourth 15-billion-euro tranche of a rescue support package, have launched inspections on several key ministries and sifted through data.

According to sources, the inspectors are generally satisfied with the measures taken by the various ministries. Fears of calls by the troika for cuts to the so-called 13th and 14th salaries – the two additional annual salaries received by most employees in the public and private sector – were not realized as the topic was reportedly not discussed in detail on Monday.

After a meeting with Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, European Commission representative Servaas Deroose reportedly expressed his conviction that ministry officials had taken the necessary measures to improve Greece?s business climate. But Deroose called for a simplification of the procedures prospective entrepreneurs face when seeking to obtain an operating license.

Deroose and his colleagues also visited the Labor and Social Insurance Ministry. According to sources, the inspectors pressed ministry officials to implement through the creation of inhouse labor contracts.

Reacting later on Monday, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) issued a statement urging the government and the troika to ?abandon any thoughts of new austerity measures that would further burden workers and send unemployment to record highs.?

The Troika also Treportedly expressed concern about the Economy Ministry?s failure to meet targets aimed at collecting outstanding taxes, chiefly through a tougher crackdown on tax evasion.