NEWS

More tough measures loom as Greece eyes bailout loans

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The government is hoping to clinch the release of 2 billion euros in loan funding, and another 10 billion for Greek banks, after a tough round of negotiations with representatives of the country’s international creditors which has focused mainly on the issue of nonperforming loans and foreclosures of primary residences.

The money is linked to a series of additional measures that Greece must legislate next week before turning to a second set of prior actions including even more contentious reforms such as higher taxes on farmers and an overhaul of the pension system.

Greece is already running behind schedule on reforms. But authorities are hoping the creditors will show some flexibility so the process of recapitalizing Greece’s banks is not derailed.

Talks are already under way within the key ministries on the next round of reforms. Labor and Social Security Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, whose ministry is overseeing the difficult task of pension reform, aims to reach a “comprehensive” agreement with creditors and approve it in Parliament by early next month, according to sources.

The hope is that the creditors will reward an active effort by Greeks to make up for lost time by making some concessions in the pension overhaul.

Already Greek authorities are seeking to soften the impact of the pension overhaul by exploring the possibility of increasing the social security contributions of employers and workers instead of further reducing monthly payouts.

Other politically contentious challenges the government faces in the coming weeks include raising taxes on Greek farmers, creating a new tax system, creating a task force that will manage a new fund for privatizing state assets and drafting new measures to meet fiscal targets for the next two years.

SYRIZA officials have expressed concerns about the impact on social cohesion of the bailout program’s austerity measures, which has already struck the leftists’ popularity, according to opinion polls.