Greece, troika agree to reduce sell-off target, close to deal on civil servants

The Greek government continued its bargaining with the troika Friday as the two sides debated how Athens will meet its targets for a labor mobility scheme ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup, when eurozone finance ministers will decide whether to release another 8.1 billion euros in bailout funding.

The troika appeared to accept the government’s proposal for some 4,000 municipal police officers being included in the mobility scheme. They are to be transferred to the main police force after undergoing some kind of retraining. The details of the plan for the municipal police remained unclear Friday as Athens attempted to meet a target of 12,500 civil servants being included in the mobility scheme. Talks are due to continue Saturday.

Sources said that the government and the troika agreed Friday to revise this year’s targets for the privatization program after the collapse of the tender for gas firm DEPA. As a result, the 2013 target will be 1.6 billion euros rather than 2.6 billion. The sale of DEPA, which was due to bring in about 1 billion euros, is now being planned for the first half of 2014.

The government’s decision to shift municipal police officers to the main force was greeted with alarm by the POE-OTA union representing local authority workers. Union members held a protest Friday outside the Administrative Reform Ministry while talks with the troika were taking place. POE-OTA chief Themis Balasopoulos is due to meet Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis on Monday to discuss the issue.

POE-OTA also announced a work stoppage for Monday. Its members will walk off the job at noon and will be joined by the civil servants’ union, ADEDY. Municipal police, meanwhile, will stay away from work tomorrow and Monday.

Speaking from Vilnius to mark Lithuania taking over the EU presidency, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned that recent turmoil in Greece and Portugal should act as a warning that the euro crisis is not over and that governments need to remain committed to their adjustment programs.

“It is for me clear that the reaction of the markets was due to the fact that there could be a weakening of the determination of those countries” – Portugal and Greece – “in terms of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms,” Barroso said.

He repeated his call for emphasis not to be placed only on fiscal consolidation but also on “structural reform for development and the need for growth.”

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