NEWS

Government eyes loan tranche, shakeup

Amid a tense debate on a multi-bill of “prior actions” demanded by Greece’s troika of foreign lenders, which will culminate in a vote in Parliament on Sunday, the government is hoping next week to get the green light for the disbursement of further rescue funding as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras mulls a reshuffle to bring some order to his turbulent Cabinet.

Athens hopes that officials convening at a Euro Working Group in Brussels on Monday will approve the release of a 2.8-billion-euro tranche of aid that had been due in March though it is quite likely that a final decision will be put back to May 16 when eurozone finance ministers are to decide on whether to approve a 6-billion-euro instalment of aid for Greece.

Apart from concerns about clinching funding, Samaras faces the task of imposing some order in his Cabinet where inter-ministerial spats last week fueled a mini-government crisis. Although government officials have played down the prospect of an imminent reshuffle, Kathimerini understands that a shakeup could be carried out immediately after Orthodox Easter. It is likely that only a few ministers will be switched around with the most prominent, and closest to Samaras, virtually certain to keep their posts. It remained unclear what would become of Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis and Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, who clashed over an amendment that would have prevented public sector contract workers from receiving their salaries while appealing decisions to terminate their employment.

The premier must also push his ministers to implement new measures with the streamlining of the civil service expected to meet with the toughest resistance. The troika intends to conduct quarterly inspections on the progress of Greece’s civil service overhaul, Kathimerini understands.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will also have to get started on overhauling a cumbersome tax collection system ahead of the troika’s anticipated return to Athens in June.