Government, troika talks progressing well; ESM releases 800 mln euro sub-tranche

Government, troika talks progressing well; ESM releases 800 mln euro sub-tranche

Greek government officials and mission chiefs of the country’s international creditor institutions will resume their meetings this morning to discuss product markets and fiscal issues, on the final day before a break in negotiations over the third review of the Greek bailout program.

The mission heads of Greece’s creditor institutions are set to depart on Saturday morning. Direct talks in Athens between the two sides are expected to continue in late November.

Government sources revealed on Thursday that agreement was reached earlier this week on the issues of administrative reform, pensions for widows and the out-of-court settlement of debts.

“There are signs of political will from all sides for the negotiation to be completed quickly and efficiently,” one government source said.

Sources were confident that there will be no gap in the budget next year, as a projected primary surplus is on the agenda for discussion on Friday.

Among the crucial and politically sensitive issues on which a deal was struck between the two sides is the rules governing industrial action. It was agreed that at least half of trade union members will need to be in favor of any call for strike action, rather than a third, as the law currently states.

Government sources are said to be optimistic about the current bailout review being completed by the end of the year. There are said to be some concerns, however, about changes to the labor market and privatizations.

Approximately 70 out of 95 prior actions remain to be implemented as part of the third review. According to local media reports, creditors have also raised serious objections to government plans to grant a 1.000 euro “holiday bonus” to 1 million beneficiaries at Christmas.

ESM

The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) announced on Thursday that its board of directors had authorized the release of an 800-billion-euro bailout loan sub-tranche to Greece.

“This is the remaining amount of the third tranche of ESM financial assistance, approved on 7 July 2017. It will be disbursed to a dedicated account for clearing arrears,” an ESM press release stated.

A finance ministry general secretary on Thursday was quoted as saying that the Greek state’s arrears to the private sector have been reduced by 1.5 billion euros, a figure he claimed exceeds a target by 300 million euros.

The disbursement is much-awaited by Athens as it constitutes another piece in the Finance Ministry’s effort to put the economy on a sustainable growth track that will lead to the successful conclusion of the bailout program in August 2018./IBNA