Greece is due to send by Saturday its proposal on several of the key issues that remain unresolved in its talks with the troika in the hope that this might pave the way for the current program review to be concluded by the Eurogroup on December 8.
Although the troika’s technical teams are due back in Athens next week, the heads of the mission have not fixed a date for their return as they are waiting for the Greek side’s proposals on a range of issues, including pension and labor reform.
Kathimerini understands that these proposals will be sent on Friday or Saturday as the government wants to intensify efforts to conclude the review. If it is not able to hit the December 8 target then the next date Athens will look at is December 18, when there will be a European Union leaders’ summit.
Sources said that the coalition will stick to its position of not wanting to make any major changes to the pension system, arguing that it is viable even though expenditure on state pensions is due to rise over the next few years. Instead, Greece will propose structural and administrative changes that will not affect the level of retirement pay.
The government is also due to reject the troika’s request for simplifying the process for mass dismissals and will look for a compromise on granting employers the right to enforce lockouts during disputes with workers. The Labor Ministry is also examining changes to union regulations.
In addition Athens will send the finalized version of the 2015 national budget, which will not include any further austerity measures. It will also forward proposals on a new wage structure in the public sector and the hiring of civil servants on a two-year trial basis. The government, however, is set to reject the troika’s suggestion for changes to value-added tax.
The government is hoping that the conclusion of the review will allow it to agree with the eurozone to a bailout exit at the end of the year. It plans to use some 11.5 billion euros left over in the state-run bank recapitalization fund (HFSF) to provide a precautionary credit line to back up its return to bond markets.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras met on Thursday with Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras to discuss the use of the capital buffer. The opposition party had been planning to use some of this money to create a special purpose bank that would help provide liquidity to Greek businesses. After the meeting, SYRIZA issued a statement voicing its opposition to the government’s plans, arguing that paying back the money and using it as a credit line would prolong the period that Greece’s lenders could dictate policy.
“Why should we accept new memorandum terms for money that we have already borrowed?” said Tsipras.