Fears over next loan deal

Although sources in the government on Monday expressed cautious optimism on the prospects for a deal being reached in ongoing debt swap talks with private creditors, there is reportedly growing anxiety amid the ranks of the ruling coalition about the terms Greece will be asked to commit to in a second bailout. Some sources indicated that these conditions have already been determined and include wide-ranging structural reforms and large cuts to public spending. The details are expected to be finalized in talks with officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund -- known collectively as the troika -- once a debt swap deal is concluded. Negotiations continued on Monday between government officials and troika envoys, who are believed to be pushing for cuts to public sector spending and to wages in the private sector as well as the acceleration of efforts to open up closed professions. In comments to state television channel Net, government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis refuted rumors that the troika had asked leaders of the three parties in the coalition government to provide written commitments to the terms of a second bailout for Greece.

Earlier in the day, Antonis Samaras, the leader of conservative New Democracy, which is the second-largest party in the coalition but the most popular in the polls, had discussed the issue of wages in the private sector with labor unionists. Samaras reiterated his opposition to calls for cuts to the 13th and 14th salaries paid to private sector workers, arguing that such austerity measures would only aggravate a deepening recession.

The ND leader also expressed his opposition to plans for the government to bypass Parliament and force through the legislation. He was speaking after a meeting with representatives of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), the country’s largest labor union.

The union has refused to discuss the abolition of the 13th and 14th salaries and the lowering of the minimum wage. Samaras struck a similar stance on Monday, noting that wage costs rank relatively low in factors affecting a country’s competitiveness.


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