NEWS

Awaiting creditors’ return, Tsipras confers with ministers

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A day before representatives of Greece's international creditors are expected to return to Athens, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held a mini cabinet meeting on Monday with key ministers.

Among those in the meeting were State Ministers Nikos Pappas and Alekos Flambouraris, Environment Minister Panos Skourletis and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.

The auditors are expected to focus on inspecting Greece's budget and pension system as well as its progress in implementing reforms pledged in return for a new bailout. The non-performing loans burdening Greek banks and the planned recapitalization of the lenders are also high on the agenda of talks.

A planned session of the Euro Working Group on Wednesday, probably by teleconference, is expected to take the first step toward approving a first tranche of loan funding, worth 2 billion euros, following the approval of a set of prior actions in Greece's Parliament.

Ministers are also to convene in the coming days to discuss the findings of an experts' report of the Greek pension system. In comments on Monday, Skourletis said the report's findings were not binding. 

As regards pension reform, the government is keen to convince creditors to allow the inclusion of certain prior actions in a broader overhaul of the pension system, to come later. The government is keen to convince creditors to allow the inclusion of certain prior actions in a broader overhaul of the pension system, to come later.

On the fiscal side, Tsakalotos is expected to ask creditors to show flexibility, arguing that the recession estimates in the draft budget – 2.3 percent of gross domestic product this year and 1.3 percent next year – are overly pessimistic.

His aim is to eliminate some of the more contentious austerity measures that Greece has suspended, such as plans for a 23 percent value added tax on private schools and higher taxes on rental income.