The meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the troika that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon was postponed for a day, with Greek government insistence that the delay is due to technical matters not managing to cover up the fact that there are some substantial differences between the two sides.
“There are no complications, there are quite a few unresolved issues but because technical discussions are continuing with the troika teams, we thought it would be useful to allow for an extra day so the meeting [with the PM] can be effective,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said.
The two sides have failed so far to agree on a range of issues, which include civil service firings, the continuation of the emergency property tax introduced in 2011 and the recapitalization of Greek banks.
Athens has also failed to convince the troika to ease up on some aspects of the consolidation program by allowing value-added tax for restaurants and the special consumption tax on heating oil to be reduced.
Greece and the troika also appear far apart on the issue of how to recover unpaid taxes and social security contributions, with the Greek side wanting more installments and lower interest penalties than the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Kathimerini understands that the troika wants debts to social security funds to incur annual interest rates of about 8.75 percent and for any payment plan to offer 36 installments from a fixed date rather than whenever debtors come to an arrangement with the funds.
Samaras is keen for an agreement to be reached on Wednesday as it should secure the release of another 2.8 billion euros in bailout funding. The government also has its eye on the next tranche of 6 billion euros.
There is concern that protracted negotiations or a failure to reach a compromise will be interpreted as a defeat for the coalition and lead to a new round of speculation about the country’s future.