PASOK chief says public administration is a ‘thorn’ in negotiations with troika

The head of government coalition partner PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos, said on Tuesday that the overhaul of Greece’s public administration remains a “thorn” in negotiations with the country’s international creditors after meeting with representatives of the so-called troika of lenders at his party’s headquarters in central Athens.

“From our discussion with the troika… it arises that the main problem, the biggest thorn, is public administration,” Venizelos said ahead of a planned meeting between the envoys and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras later in the day which is expected to address public sector reform among other contentious issues in a bid to reach a consensus before Friday’s informal Eurogroup summit in Dublin.

“They are not looking at the issues regarding the public sector from a fiscal standpoint,” Venizelos said in a statement following his meeting. “They are looking at them, correctly I think, from the point of view of structural reform. Our credibility rests on this issue; it will determine whether we here in Greece really want deep structural reforms – a different state that can function in a manner that is friendly toward investment, toward growth and foremost toward the citizen, and to this we must give a positive answer.”

The head of the Socialists also recommended that the troika envoys hold a meeting with the head of the junior coalition partner Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, who has resisted pressure from the creditors for public sector layoffs.

“I think it very important for a direct meeting to take place between Democratic Left and the troika. It will help a lot toward pin-pointing the issues as each side sees them,” Venizelos said.

“Our principal objective,” said Venizelos, “is and should be avoiding any thought of additional fiscal measures. We will not take additional fiscal measures; society, the economy and the political system cannot afford them.”

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