Samaras poised for first meeting with troika officials

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is set to meet top-ranking envoys representing Greece’s international creditors at 1 p.m. on Thursday before briefing officials of his coalition government who are seeking to finalize the administration’s policy program ahead of its scheduled presentation in Parliament tomorrow afternoon.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will also meet with the troika chiefs following a swearing-in ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m.

It is expected that Samaras will synopsize Greece’s basic arguments in his talks with envoys from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, known as the troika. According to sources, the four key “axes” of the Greek proposal to the troika will be: the restriction of hirings in the civil service to 1 for every 10 departures, the transfer of civil servants to other parts of the public sector instead of their inclusion in a labor reserve scheme, the implementation of an ambitious program for privatizing state assets and the adoption of certain measures to relieve austerity-weary citizens such as allowing them to pay taxes in instalments.

Samaras is expected to pass on the troika’s response to this proposal to officials from the three parties in the coalition -- conservative New Democracy, socialist Pasok and Democratic Left -- who will then finalize the policy program. Sources said there had been some dispute between the different parties on certain areas of policy such as ND’s proposal for the revocation of a citizenship law granting migrants greater rights and as regards a minimum corporate tax rate.

Stournaras is also expected to suggest that taxpayers are allowed to pay their dues in tranches though this would mean that 2.5 billion would not be collected until next year.

The bloated civil service is another targeted area. The government plans to reduce the number of civil servants it employs by about 15,000 this year by adhering to a 10-out-1-in hiring policy as part of an effort to meet targets for a smaller public sector by 2015. The target it has agreed with the troika is 150,000 fewer full-time civil servants by 2015.

Sources told Kathimerini that there would be a strict limit on the amount of temporary workers as well. Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis said that only staff to cover pressing seasonal needs would be hired, saving some 300 million euros. 

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