Ministers brief SYRIZA MPs on progress of bailout talks


Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Labor and Social Insurance Minister Effie Achtsioglou on Wednesday briefed SYRIZA lawmakers on the progress of bailout talks and the sticking points but the move appeared to increase MPs’ concerns rather than easing them.

The 45 SYRIZA MPs who attended the briefing, less than a third of the party’s 144 lawmakers, were asked to participate actively in the briefing by offering suggestions as to how bones of contention in the talks can be tackled.

According to sources, the ministers admitted that there was a considerable gap between Greek officials and bailout monitors to be bridged.
It appears that the government is prepared to compromise on creditors’ demands for lowering the tax-free threshold to around 6,000 euros.

However, the foreign envoys’ insistence on a full liberalization of the labor market – with the facilitation of mass layoffs – is still causing friction in talks. Sources indicated that bailout monitors have shown more understanding on the thorny issue of pensions, indicating that the further trimming of payments can be postponed for the time being.

According to sources, though disheartened by the information relayed to them by the ministers, MPs asked to receive an update on the progress of negotiations over the coming days.

Although Greece is on the official agenda of talks for a scheduled summit of eurozone finance ministers next Monday, no conclusive deal is expected to be reached. It is seen as more likely that some kind of breakthrough might be achieved at a subsequent Eurogroup meeting planned for April 7.

Meanwhile, plans to pilot an evaluation of civil servants, starting in April, have come up against the objections of ADEDY, the public sector union, and POE-OTA, the federation of local government unions, which are calling for the procedure to be scrapped.

ADEDY went as far as saying that civil servants will abstain from taking part in the appraisal process, while POE-OTA has called on mayors to hold back until there is a meeting with Minister of Administrative Reform Olga Gerovasili. The latest objections could further delay the implementation of the process.