NEWS

PM in debut meeting with troika

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras welcomed high-ranking representatives of the troika ? officials from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund ? at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday afternoon, in what was billed as the first official meeting between the Greek premier and the country?s international creditors.

Samaras, who on Thursday made his first public appearance following an absence of two weeks due to eye sugery, is expected to present the EU, ECB and IMF envoys with the country?s basic arguments regarding possible readjustments to its 130 billion euro bailout plan.

Following the meeting with the troika, the Prime Minister is set to brief officials of the coalition government ? which includes conservative New Democracy, socialist PASOK and Democratic Left — in view of finalizing the new administration?s policy program before the latter is presented in Parliament on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras ? whose swearing in ceremony took place on Thursday morning ? also met with the troika officials. Stournaras is also taking part at the Maximos Mansion meeting.

Samaras is expected to present the troika with four key ?axes?: restricting civil service hirings to 1 for every 10 departures, transfering civil servants to other departments as opposed to including them in a labor reserve scheme, implementing a state assets privatization project as well as putting forward measures allowing citizens to pay taxes in instalments.

Addressing PASOK MPs in Parliament on Thursday, Socialist Party chief Evangelos Venizelos spoke of the need for an updated, realistic bailout plan that can be implemented, a program that would take into account the new macroeconomic framework following the EU summit in Brussels at the end of June.

Venizelos noted that decisions taken with regard to Spain and Ireland could also be implemented in the case of Greece, Portugal and Cyprus. He stressed that Greece needs the clear political support of its European partners and reiterated his proposal for the appointment of a broad national negotiation task force.

Meanwhile, troika officials visiting Athens were looking at a busy schedule with the local administration in order to examine progress in reforms, budget issues, developments in privatization plans and labor issues.