Leaders to discuss bailout strategy with Stournaras

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is to brief Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the leaders of the other two parties in the coalition government on Wednesday at 7 p.m. following the former’s first meeting with his eurozone peers in Brussels, where he was told that Greece must implement agreed-to measures worth around 3 billion euros before international creditors will consider any concessions. “They want us to implement the measures we committed to for 2012,” Stournaras told reporters on the sidelines of a summit of European Union finance ministers in Brussels yesterday, referring to a batch of measures that were thrashed out in March but most of which have yet to be implemented. Of those measures, only cuts to pensions have been enforced. Authorities still have to make good on cutting spending on pharmaceuticals by 1 billion euros, to save 200 million euros by cutting the so-called “special salaries” of certain categories of civil servants such as military and judicial staff, to reduce defense spending by 300 million euros, to curb a public investment program by 400 million euros and to cut the state’s operational costs by 370 million euros.

Stournaras and the coalition leaders - Samaras, socialist PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis - are expected to focus on the minister’s talks in Brussels and on the call for measures. According to sources, efforts will be made to ensure that citizens with outstanding tax dues can pay them in installments and to avert cuts to certain categories of the “special-salary” civil servants, such as military and police staff. Stournaras said the government would be able to propose alternative measures to those agreed as long as they amount to the same revenue. “We are considering the measures and we will fight to be able to impose them in installments,” he said. The minister did not request an extension to the country’s fiscal adjustment period, which is believed to have irked Venizelos, at whose initiative today’s meeting with Stournaras was convened, according to sources. But the minister said that he would broach the subject in due course.

“When the time comes, the issue of an extension will be raised persistently because it is only fair,” he said, adding that a report by creditors into the cost of an extension and its repercussions on debt sustainability was in the pipeline.


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