PM, troika to discuss crunch issues on Tuesday

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to meet troika mission chiefs in Athens on Tuesday afternoon as the two sides aim to reach consensus on a series of structural reforms, including a much-delayed streamlining of the civil service, which are a prerequisite for the release of the next installment of rescue loans to Greece worth 2.8 billion euros, before Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras fly to Brussels for a European Union summit starting on Thursday.

The talks on Tuesday come after troika chiefs and government officials spent several hours on Monday discussing a series of points of contention including a payment plan for companies and individuals with social security debts and a property tax which was introduced in the fall of 2011 as an emergency levy but which the troika is reportedly pushing to be extended to plug a revenue gap. Lax tax collection efforts are also expected to be broached a day after Stournaras heralded the recruitment of an additional 4,000 tax inspectors to boost the government’s crackdown.

One of the most significant issues on the scheduled agenda of talks between the premier and troika envoys on Tuesday is that regarding a mobility scheme in the civil service. Troika officials reportedly expressed satisfaction with an initial set of staffing plans for streamlining government ministries given to them by Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis. According to sources, the plan includes a monthly analysis of the progress of the so-called mobility scheme into which 25,000 civil servants must be transferred by the end of the year, according to Greece’s pledges to creditors. Troika officials are expected to assess the progress of the scheme in early June, by which time 12.500 public workers should have been inducted into the scheme.

An evaluation of ministry staff is expected to be finished in the coming days, according to sources. More than 1,300 public workers found to have broken the code of conduct or to have obtained their jobs by using forged documents are also under scrutiny. They are expected to be the first to go if there are any civil service layoffs, which appears unlikely until next year but is expected to be clarified this evening following talks between Samaras and troika envoys. The planned merging and abolition of some 700 state bodies, expected by the end of April, will release some 13,000 civil servants into the mobility scheme.

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