The fifth, and probably final, review of Greece’s economic reform progress by the troika is set to begin with Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis to meet foreign envoys on Tuesday morning while Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos will meet later in the day to discuss strategy in an increasingly tense political climate.
According to a high-ranking source at the Finance Ministry, “all issues will be broached” in the meeting between Hardouvelis and the troika mission chiefs which is to start at 11.30 a.m. Troika sources indicated that the agenda of this review would be “heavier” than previous ones, with reports of at least 700 pending actions.
Troika envoys are also due to meet on Tuesday with several other key cabinet members including Health Minister Makis Voridis and Environment and Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis. Talks with Development Minister Nikos Dendias are scheduled for Wednesday, with Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis to meet the auditors on Thursday.
The first issue on the agenda of Hardouvelis’s talks with the troika is the draft budget, with the two sides expected to disagree about the size of Greece’s primary surplus, and discussions about possible measures to plug the gap likely to take place. A consensus will be needed before October 6, when the draft budget is to go to Parliament.
Mitsotakis’s meeting will focus on the 6,500 civil servants who must be dismissed by the end of this year, while Dendias is expected to present the foreign auditors with a proposal for corporate debt arrangement.
Ahead of his talks with the troika, Vroutsis is due to visit the headquarters of the International Labor Organization in Geneva on Tuesday. Vroutsis has asked the ILO to assess the effectiveness of potential changes to current laws governing layoffs in the private sector. He is also to seek a compromise with labor unions and employers’ associations for proposed changes to Greek laws governing trade unions, and he is expected to come under pressure by the troika for a second reform of the pension system.
As troika envoys hold talks with the various ministers today, Samaras and Venizelos are to meet in the afternoon in a bid to finalize the government’s strategy and their so-called “red lines” in negotiations.
The talks come as political tensions peak amid mounting speculation about early elections as the ruling coalition appears unable to garner the necessary 180 votes in the 300-seat Parliament to back its candidate for president in February when the term of incumbent Karolos Papoulias ends.
Yesterday government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi once again rebuffed rumors about snap polls in November while Voridis noted that failure to resolve the issue with the 180 seats would simply perpetuate a pre-election climate.
Another prominent conservative, Central Macedonia Governor Apostolos Tzitzicostas, caused waves meanwhile by proposing the creation of an emergency unity government, without Samaras at its helm, in a bid to solve the 180 MP conundrum.