PM writes to troika explaining need for extension

As government officials continue their efforts to come up with 11.5 billion euros in savings for 2013 and 2014, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has given representatives of the country’s foreign creditors a letter explaining his country’s reasons for seeking an extension to its fiscal adjustment period, Kathimerini understands. The two-page letter, given to envoys of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, known as the troika, reportedly explains the challenges posed by a deepening recession and pledges to “front-load” the reform program, implementing some of the measures as early as this year. It does not appear to be an official request for an extension of the fiscal adjustment period -- a key goal set out in the coalition’s policy statement -- but explains why such a move will be sought.

Troika officials, who briefed Samaras on Friday on the outcome of their meetings in Athens, are due to leave on Sunday and return in late August or early September before compiling their long-awaited report.

The premier and his two coalition partners, socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left, are to meet on Monday to finalize a package of 11.5 billion euros in savings for 2013 and 2014.

In a meeting with troika chiefs on Friday, Venizelos emphasized that an extension of Greece’s fiscal adjustment period until the end of 2016 is the only way the country can make the necessary reforms without “perpetuating the recession.” The socialist chief and Kouvelis both object to planned cuts to pensions and benefits although they do not seem to have countermeasures to propose.

As the government struggles with reforms, European policymakers are reportedly working on a “last-chance” scenario to keep Greece in the eurozone. According to Reuters, the ECB and national central banks are considering taking major losses on the value of their bond holdings in a bid to reduce Greece’s debts by 70 to 100 billion euros. Private creditors accepted big write-downs on their Greek bonds in March but this failed to put the economy back on track.

Underscoring concerns about the deepening euro crisis, candidate state Latvia said Greece should exit the bloc as it is delaying its recovery. “One ought to as soon as possible find a way to throw Greece out of the eurozone with as little damage as possible,” Latvian Finance Minister Andris Vilks told state radio.


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