Troika experts on Monday urged greater flexibility in the Greek labour market, during a meeting with the political leadership of the labour and social insurances ministry.

The representatives of the IMF, ECB and the European Commission asked for measures to promote work time and limited time contracts, which are commitments included in a memorandum signed between Greece and the troika. The ministry, conversely, views current regulations as adequate, with more negotiation is expected on the issue.

The troika members did not ask for any new legislative initiatives, nor set timetables, although discussions were set to continue on a technical level and the troika could present more specific proposals during their next meeting in three months.

Ministry officials stressed there was a “red line” covered by European labour laws, which was generally accepted by the troika delegation. Both sides confirmed their will to promote implementation of new legislation on signing business labour contracts. Ministry officials, however, noted that the government was determined to insist on safeguarding the collective representation of employees in negotiations over signing such contracts.

They also said the troika representatives accepted reports on the viability of the pension system, which meant that there would be no changes in the basic pension rate.

Minister meets with 'troika' representatives

The meeting of Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis with visiting troika (IMF-ECB-EU) representatives on Monday focused on actions that are being implemented and on initiatives aimed at improving the country’s business environment.

Among the issues highlighted by the troika as urgent were the simplification of procedures for business operation licensing currently in the process of being co-signed by the responsible ministries; the implementation of the one-stop-shop service (for new business licensing) no later than April and the establishment of a framework of operation for the Single Authority for Public Contracts which is expected to be ready soon.

Chryssohoidis stressed that the first tenders within the framework of the 2.15-billion-euro new investment law, of which 650 million euros will be subsidies and the remaining amount tax exemptions, will be announced on March 15.

As regards the national brand for Greek exports, he stressed that Greece’s presence in foreign markets is being planned by Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO), Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and Invest in Greece representatives.

The price reduction agreement will be implemented in all sectors, Chryssohoidis stressed while the effort to eradicate monopolies in the Greek market continues. A relevant draft law aimed at reforming the Competition Commission will be submitted to Parliament next week.

Before the end of the week, an invitation will be issued to the banks to participate in the National Entrepreneurship Development Fund (ETEAN) while referring to National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), he said that the absorption rate has already been increased, adding that 11 instead of 10 projects, with an estimated budget of 4.65 billion euros, will be funded by NSRF.