Athens, January 14, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The first impressions in Brussels for the governmental plan of the social insurance reform are possitive, according to a senior official, who explained that the evaluation of the programme starts at the beginning of next week with the arrival of representatives of institutions in Athens.
Describing the reform for the Social Security system that was laid out by the Greek Government as “ambitious” and the consolidation of funds a “step forward”, he was quick to stress that quantifications measures are necessary and requested additional information, but also added that the Social Security is not the only open question to successfully close the assessment, which is why he can not predict when it will end. Also, he hinted that the presence of the IMF in the programmw is given.
“Ambitious” the Social Security reform
“Ambitious” is described by Brussels the draft of the Greek government to reform the Social Security system, according to a senior officer of the eurozone.
As he stated, it is still premature to express a complete view, as certain elements and quantifications are missing, but to the extent that the plan provides for the addressing of some long standing problems of the Greek pension system, as is the great “variety” of pension funds, it is a “big step forward”.
Additional data and information will be requested during the assessment regarding the proposal, he said, adding that currently he is not able himself to know whether the proposal is enough to ensure the sustainability of the funds or not.
Perhaps some further measures are required he added, while estimated that consultations will be long and will not be completed until the next Eurogroup in early February.
Evaluation to begin next week
The first major evaluation of the new Greek programme, according to the same official of the euro zone, is expected to begin early next week, with the arrivals of the teams of institutions in Athens.
The open evaluation issues
In order for the evaluation to be completed, apart from Social Security, he emphasized, remain open other important issues, such as the restructuring of public administration, the new privatisation fund, the finalisation of the fiscal targets for 2016, and the reform of electricity market and some remaining reforms in the financial sector.
It is crucial to be completed soon, but…
Due to the important issues involved in the assessment, it is difficult, according to the same official, to predict how long the initial evaluation will take, but in “political” term it is important for Greece to take place as fast as possible.
However, he underlined that there are no significant financing needs in the immediate future. But there is another kind of pressure: the connection of the completion of the evaluation with the launch of the crucial for Athens debate for the restructuring of the public debt.
Referring to this issue and the measures that could be taken to regulate the Greek debt, the official connected them perfectly with Social Insurance and reforms, saying that to make a reliable estimate of the size of the Greek debt in the coming years there must first be resolved issues such as Social Security, but also to assess the impact it will have on productivity the reform of the Greek public administration.
The involvement of the IMF is given
He reiterated that the participation of the IMF in the Greek program and the decision on the setting of the greek debt is connected and placed in time after the completion of the first evaluation and the agreement at staff level, which will concern all the institutions, including the IMF.