6th Jul 2022

Troika to return to Athens next week

  • The Greek Parliament: PM Papandreou is to hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning outlining the cuts agreed (Photo: Gerard McGovern)

Troika inspectors are to return to Athens “early next week”, the European Commission and the Greek government announced on Tuesday night after something of a breakthrough in discussions between the two sides, but there is still no deal on the dispersal of the latest round of bail-out cash to the heavily indebted country.

Following a second evening conference call in as many days between Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos and the heads of the so-called EU-ECB-IMF troika mission, the commission said in a statement that “good progress” had been made in the talks and said: “technical discussions will continue in Athens over the coming days.”

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“The full mission is now expected to come back to Athens early next week to resume the review, including policy discussions.”

A statement from the Greek finance ministry also described the talks as delivering “satisfactory progress”.

The talks over the last two days have centred on what measures can be adopted immediately to assure international lenders that the country can cut this year’s deficit.

According to local reports, the measures involve hikes in taxes on drinks, tobacco, utilities and roads as well as municipal taxes and an equalisation of taxation on heating oil and fuel.

Public-sector workers are likely to see salaries slashed by up to 50 percent and caps on pensions are to be introduced.

Tens of thousands of civil servants are to be sacked or placed in a labour reserve status by the end of the month. The final number of those who will lose their job remains unknown but as many as 100,000 individuals could be affected.

The troika is also demanding the immediate closure or merger of a range of publicly-owned enterprises.

The prime minister is to hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning to outline what was agreed in the conference calls.

Separately, the Italian government has also said that it is drafting fresh measures to boost the country’s ailing economy after its credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s on Monday.

Finance minister Giulio Tremonti said on Tuesday that the plans include fiscal incentives to boost private-sector investment in high-speed internet and a highway from Rome to Venice.

The incentives will be unveiled in a decree before the end of the month, while further decrees will be announced by the end of 2011 privatising local utilities and liberalising the services sector.

Greece in limbo after EU conference call

While negotiations between the Greek government and international lenders remain inconclusive, a report out of Athens suggests that the prime minister is looking to hold a referendum on staying in the euro.

Mass strikes, protests hit Italy, Spain over EU-imposed austerity

Popular anger over Europe’s strategy of austerity for exiting the eurozone crisis spread to Italy on Tuesday as the country was paralysed by a general strike. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Italians poured into the streets of over a hundred cities and towns to protest what Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin demand.

Merkel, Sarkozy: ‘Future of Greece is in euro’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy attempted to calm market anxiety over a possible Greek default on Wednesday evening, affirming their commitment to Greek membership of the euro.

Greek civil servants block troika from entering finance ministry

Inspectors from the so-called troika of the EU, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund returned to Athens on Thursday to review the Greek government’s austerity work, only to find staff from seven key ministries blockading their way.

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