Greece submitted to Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem Friday an outline of seven reform proposals to form the basis for discussion at Monday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers, but the signs from Brussels are that Athens is no closer to securing the release of its next tranche of bailout funding.
The 11-page document sent by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis sets out several proposals that have already been made public as well as some that were only made known Friday. The suggestion that caused the most surprise was to fight tax evasion by enlisting non-professional inspectors, including tourists, on a two-month basis during which they would collect audiovisual data that could be used to target evaders.
Varoufakis also outlined plans to activate a fiscal council to generate budget savings and update licensing of gaming and lotteries to boost state revenues by an estimated 500 million euros.
He also gave details of the government’s plan to ease the social impact of the crisis, which will cost some 200 million euros, and to introduce a new payment plan for tax debtors, which the coalition estimates could raise 3 billion euros in revenues.
In his letter to Dijsselbloem, Varoufakis calls for technical discussions regarding the proposals to begin as soon as possible.
“We envisage that… the majority of the items on our first list can be further specified as soon as possible so that the resulting agreement can be ratified by the Eurogroup, and Greece’s Parliament, and become the basis for the review,” wrote the Greek finance minister, who added that the government proposes all technical discussions and fact-finding or fact-exchange sessions should take place in Brussels.
A European official speaking on condition of anonymity told journalists in the Belgian capital that since no technical work had been done by Greece’s lenders due to the proposals only being submitted Friday, there is no way eurozone finance ministers will be in a position to approve the Greek proposals on Monday.
“They may have degrees and doctorates in economics but they do not have the time or the technical knowledge to go into the details of the Greek program,” he said.
The official urged for there to be more communication between Greece and the technical teams from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission.