The initial round of talks comprising the start of the first bailout review for the current government ended on Friday with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos suggesting that a lot of work has to be done before Greece’s lenders return to Athens to resume the inspection.
“I am not sure when they will return,” said Tsakalotos on Friday after his meeting with the mission chief. The minister said the officials representing Greece’s lenders also want time to discuss matters between themselves. The government would like the officials to return on February 15, with the aim of completing the review by the end of the month. There are serious doubts, though, about whether this will be possible.
At the moment it appears that the creditors have not accepted Greece’s proposals regarding tax and pension reforms, forcing Athens back to the drawing board.
Tsakalotos suggested that the institutions have agreed to the framework of the reforms, rather than the details. He also insisted that they understand the government’s reluctance to slash existing pensions.
However, sources told Kathimerini that the lenders have raised significant objections, such as concerns that raising social security contributions could harm the Greek economy’s competitiveness. There is also concern that the proposed 50 percent income tax rate for earnings above 60,000 euros will encourage tax evasion.