NEWS

Eurogroup unlikely to be held soon to discuss Greek reforms

Officials representing Greece and its lenders on Saturday began discussing the reform proposals put forward by Athens in order to secure further bailout funding but the prospect of a Eurogroup meeting being called in the next few days to approve such a disbursal appear slim.

Technical teams from the various sides assessed the list of reforms, which include measures aimed at raising 3 billion euros in revenue this year, mainly from improvements in tax collection and efforts to stamp out tax evasion.

The government is also aiming to boost state coffers by selling online gambling licenses and launching tenders for broadcasting permits. Other measures being considered are raising the top income tax rate to 45 from 42 percent and only increasing the tax-free threshold from 5,000 euros to 12,000 euros gradually, rather than in one go as SYRIZA had promised before the elections.

There is also a plan to increase the luxury tax and the special consumption tax for alcohol but changes to value-added tax will only be considered by Athens if the lenders deem the measures already proposed insufficient.

Sources told Kathimerini that even if there is a broad agreement between Greece and its creditors it is unlikely that eurozone finance ministers will meet next week or even the week after to approve the release of even part of the 7.2 billion euros remaining in bailout money.

A high-ranking European official said that there is a possibility that the Euro Working Group (EWG) would assess the measures this week but that eurozone finance ministers would not be called upon until all the details have been ironed out. He also pointed out that Western Easter falls this Sunday, meaning that several days would be lost due to holidays, and that Orthodox Easter is the following Sunday.

Also, sources said that visiting technical teams have made only limited progress in obtaining the information they need from ministries in Athens.

Technocrats say that cooperation from the Greek government has not been as forthcoming as lenders would like.