Institutions e-mail list of concerns to Athens over social benefits

Institutions e-mail list of concerns to Athens over social benefits

An e-mail was delivered to Athens on Thursday with which its creditor institutions request clarifications regarding the Greek government’s recent controversial decision to hand out social benefits.

Local media reported that European Stability Mechanism sources expect an answer from Greek authorities before Christmas.

Greek government sources said Athens would provide assurances that the 617 million euros-worth of social benefits handed out to 1.6 million pensioners do not affect the country’s bailout program and its goals. The Tsipras administration will also make clear that the decision was “one off” and the benefit that was handed out on Thursday to beneficiaries will not become permanent.

The e-mail delivered to Athens reportedly contains a series of objections and concerns which Greek Finance Ministry officials need to address.

Despite the row that the unilateral decision to hand out the benefit has caused, Greek government sources were optimistic that short term debt relief measures will kick in early in January and will not be linked to the conclusion of the ongoing program review that has stalled.

Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reiterated on Thursday that the review must be wrapped up swiftly in order for “the positive momentum that has been built is not contested, and for the country to move forward with greater optimism.”

Tsipras was also critical of some of the country’s creditors and partners, urging “those who point the finger at us in the name of agreements” to “meet their commitments” [towards Greece] first. The comment was seen as a reference to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who had earlier attacked the Greek PM.

Speaking to German newspaper Die Zeit, the German Fin Min said: “…I cannot understand why Prime Minister Tsipras blames the German government of wanting to hurt Greek pensioners.” He added that without its partners rescuing, Greece would have defaulted long ago./ΙΒΝΑ