NEWS

Athens scurries to catch up as lenders return

athens-scurries-to-catch-up-as-lenders-return

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras conferred with his top ministers on Monday ahead of the return of Greece’s lenders to Athens on Tuesday, when they will begin assessing the government’s progress in completing the 49 prior actions required for the release of another 2 billion euros in bailout funding.

The top negotiators for the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund – the four institutions overseeing Greece’s progress under the bailout package – are expected to remain in the Greek capital until Friday.

Their main tasks will be to evaluate “progress in the implementation of the program, with special regard to the fulfillment of the milestones and the outlook of the first review,” Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt told reporters on Monday in Brussels.

With the aid of the multi-bill approved by MPs late on Friday, the government has so far met 16 of the milestones, while there has been either partial or no progress on the remainder. Most outstanding actions relate to the need for ministries to issue decisions and circulars, rather than for new legislation to be approved.

This means that the disbursement of the next bailout sub-tranche of 2 billion euros is not expected until next week.
Tsipras’s meeting with his ministers was aimed at ensuring that the first review will be completed without any complications.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Energy Minister Panos Skourletis, Education Minister Nikos Filis, and state ministers Alekos Flambouraris and Nikos Pappas took part in the meetings.

Another issue that is expected to come up in the discussions between the lenders’ representatives and the Greek government is the position of general secretary for revenues Katerina Savvaidou. Tsakalotos is thought to have asked her to step aside after she was accused of two cases of breach of duty, but Savvaidou has so far refused to quit.

The government’s move appears to have caused concern among Greece’s lenders, who fear the position’s independence may be compromised if Savvaidou is forced out before justice has run its course. Sources said that the institutions exchanged e-mails with the Greek government over this subject on the weekend.