Troika ups pressure over civil servants’ pay

Plans to introduce a new across-the-board pay structure in the civil service will top the agenda of discussions between the government and the representatives of its lenders this week, amid concern in Brussels and Washington that Greece is dragging its feet over the reform.

Sources told Sunday?s Kathimerini that top officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the troika, who will begin a visit to Athens on Monday are unhappy that the government has yet to arrive at a wage formula for public servants.

Last week, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas suggested that the new pay policy would be phased in over seven rather than three years as previously agreed.

In its defense against accusations of procrastination, the government says that the new pay structure it is preparing would save an extra 200 million euros a year and that the cuts it made in June to supplementary wages will lead to annual savings of 350 million euros.

The troika is also pressuring the government over the slow pace of its scheme to merge and shut down public bodies, and its privatization program. Sources said that the EC, ECB and IMF officials are content with the plans to raise 1.3 billion euros by the end of September and another 3.3 billion by the end of the year, but they are concerned about how the scheme will pan out next year.

One of the ministers who insists his department will be meet the targets set by the troika is Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, who spoke to Proto Thema newspaper. Loverdos also caused a stir by suggested that the possibility of a government of national unity is an ?open possibility? regardless of whether there are elections or not.

His statement comes a few days after a rare moment of consensus between PASOK, New Democracy and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) when university reforms were passed through Parliament. The leftist parties expressed concern that the three are preparing the ground for a grand coalition.