PM, ministers and president hope to convince lenders about pension proposals


The Greek government plans to launch a charm offensive aimed at convincing its lenders to accept the pension reform proposals it unveiled this week, while it waits for the institutions to respond to the plan put together by the Labor Ministry.

In the coming days Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos are all expected to attempt to convince European officials that the scheme, which foresees no immediate cuts to pensions currently being collected by retirees but an increase in social security contributions and a reduction in the amounts that new pensioners will receive, should be approved.

Tsipras is expected to raise the matter at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 21 and 22. He aims to meet International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde there.

The IMF appears the most skeptical of Greece’s four lenders regarding the prospect of the pension reform plan not including immediate cuts to existing pensions.

Tsakalotos is due to meet a number of his eurozone counterparts, including Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble, in the coming days to discuss the pension reform plan.

Katrougalos is also set to travel to Berlin, as well as Paris, to brief his counterparts.

It seems that Pavlopoulos will also be enlisted in the effort to circumvent whatever technocratic concerns there may be about the reform plan.

He is due to visit Berlin on January 17 and 18, when he is scheduled to meet with his German counterpart Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas confirmed on Tuesday that the institutions had received the Greek pension reform proposal on Monday night and that they would be reviewing it over the next few days, before the start of the first review of the current bailout program.

Representatives of Greece’s lenders are expected back in Athens in mid-January but Schinas would not be drawn on exactly when the review will begin.

Sources said the lenders will likely ask the Greek government for detailed calculations over the next few days regarding the measures it has proposed to ensure that they deliver the savings that have been requested of Athens.