NEWS

Greek government seeks balanced reform package

Greece is preparing a package of reforms that will contain many of the government’s election pledges but will also satisfy many of the lenders’ demands regarding changes they want to see the country make, the coalition says.

The government is expected to submit the list by Monday, after it has been approved by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Details about what will be contained in the proposals remain sketchy.

“The plan contains some basic reforms whose aim is to allow Greek society to have some breathing space within the framework of the kind of policies that we want to implement over the next 2.5 months, until June,” government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis told Vima FM on Thursday.

Sakellaridis insisted that the proposals would not include any measures that “affect Greeks’ incomes.” He also ruled out raising the retirement age to 67 and pledged that the government’s interventions would make tax collection fairer and more effective.

However, Kathimerini understands that the government will have to include some fiscal measures in the list of measures it will send to lenders. As of Thursday, there had been no agreement between Greek and visiting technical teams on the size of the primary surplus target for this year.

The Finance Ministry believes that if the ENFIA property tax is not scrapped and the zero deficit rule for social security funds is kept, Greece should be close to a 1 percent of gross domestic product primary surplus at the end of the year. It is estimated that the government would need another 900 million euros in revenues to achieve a 1.5 percent of GDP primary surplus.

Steps aimed at improving the business environment in Greece are believed to be among those that will be put forward by the government by Monday. It is thought a Eurogroup could then be held as early as Tuesday to discuss whether the package is acceptable.

Tsipras spoke by phone with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Thursday. “They had a constructive conversation that focused on next steps in taking forward the policy discussions related to the IMF’s continued support of Greece’s reform program,” Fund spokesman William Murray told reporters without giving any more details.