NEWS

Gov’t to submit final reform list to Brussels on Tuesday

The government was on Tuesday morning expected to submit a final version of its reform proposals to the country’s creditors following several hours of discussions with officials in Brussels on Monday aimed at hammering out a set of measures acceptable to both sides.

The list of reforms must be approved by Greece’s creditors to seal last Friday’s agreement foreseeing a four-month extension of the country’s loan agreement. A government official said on Monday that drafts had been exchanged and that the final version would be ready by Tuesday morning, after a Monday night deadline set by creditors.

Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to discuss the final document during a teleconference on Tuesday afternoon.

According to sources, the Greek proposals include a crackdown on tax evasion and corruption as well as measures to help taxpayers pay their dues and to tackle nonperforming loans. There were indications that the list would also include a reference to privatizations and plans to crack down on fuel smuggling, which costs the Greek state billions of euros every year.

“We have shown a responsible stance vis-a-vis the people and the creditors, we expect the same from Europe,” government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis told Skai TV earlier in the day.

The government is keen to get the green light to move ahead with its proposed reforms instead of a raft of austerity measures agreed to by the previous administration – including further pension cuts and an increase to VAT on the islands.

Sources indicated that the list of measures to be submitted by the new Greek government will not contain a cost-benefit analysis, which would help creditors gauge their potential impact on the budget. The letter is rather likely to set out the broad policy proposals and express the government’s commitment to a much-delayed crackdown on tax evasion.

European officials struck a cautious stance. “The ball is in the Greek government’s court,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “If Athens wants to see changes in individual points, then that is OK. But if these changes lead to further spending, then they need to save elsewhere or look to gather more revenue.”

Steinmeier noted the Eurogroup deal last Friday only extended Greece’s bailout program until early summer. “Europe has a chance to pause for breath – that’s all – this is not a solution,”” he told Germany’s Bild newspaper.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici struck a similar note. “Of course there will be measures that fit with the philosophy of SYRIZA… but they also have to take account of budgetary balance and the need to repay debts,” he told France 2.

The Greek government also faces pressure on the domestic front. Several prominent SYRIZA officials criticized last Friday’s Eurogroup agreement over the weekend, notably veteran leftist and MEP Manolis Glezos, who apologized to Greeks for “participating in the creation of an illusion.”