NEWS

Athens-troika deal unlikely before Dec 9 Eurogroup, says FinMin official

A deal between Athens and the troika of international lenders is unlikely before a key Eurogroup summit on December 9, a senior Finance Ministry official told the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.

The government and officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund are at odds over the projected size of the country’s fiscal gap and over the measures that will be necessary to fill it. Sources told Kathimerini that the target is now around 1.5 billion euros but that the troika wants spending cuts to be used to help meet this goal. Athens believes that the target can be achieved through savings from structural reforms and wants to avoid any further measures.

“Even though we are bridging our difference minute by minute over the fiscal gap, there is a 50-50 chance that we will manage to close it by December 9,” the Finance Ministry official is quoted as saying.

One of the main points of friction in talks between the government and the troika is the new unified property tax that the government is still in the process of drafting, with the troika estimating that the levy would bring in around 2.5 billion euros – 380-400 million euros less than the Greek side has calculated.

Envoys are also said to have questioned claims by Labor and Social Insurance Minister Yiannis Vroutsis that up to 900 million euros can be raised through a more efficient crackdown on tax and social security evasion.

Meanwhile, a senior government official speaking to the UK’s The Guardian on Monday is quoted as saying: “They [the troika] are pressing us to adopt policies that are crazy. If we are forced to implement so much as half a measure more there will be a revolution in this country. Are they blind?”