Greece’s Fin Min holds talks with creditors after resignations blow

PTI Athens | Updated on March 12, 2018

Greece’s finance minister held new talks yesterday with the country’s international creditors, hours after the Greek reform team was hit by the resignation of two top officials.

“We did not conclude something today,” a finance ministry source told reporters after the meeting.

Nevertheless “the talks are continuing in a very good atmosphere,” the official said.

“We want, as do they, to speed up the talks over the next two days and to start closing chapters,” the official added.

The talks – mainly focused on job cuts – will determine whether Athens will claim a loan slice of $3.6 billion due at the end of March.

As the meeting ended, around a thousand protesters gathered on central Syntagma Square opposite the finance ministry to protest against austerity deemed to be choking the life out of the recession-hit Greek economy.

Several thousand active and retired military officers had likewise protested on Saturday over sweeping pension cuts.

Thorny issues that Greece still needs to address to obtain its next bailout funds include shrinking the number of jobs in the public sector, speeding up privatisation plans and recapitalising four of its main banks.

On Saturday, Greece’s privatisation chief and the finance ministry general secretary both stepped down over an investigation into alleged breach of duty at the country’s main power group PPC where both were previously members of the board.

The blow came as the troubled Greek privatisation drive was beginning to hit a stride after years of delays.

In January, the privatisation agency completed Greece’s first public land international deal in 15 years with a 99-year lease of a plot on the popular tourist island of Corfu for 23 million euros ($30 million).

A month later, Greece managed to lure back Qatar’s investment authority in a public tender for its top asset, the former Athens airport of Hellinikon.

In an interview with financial weekly Axia on Saturday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had forecast a solid privatisation drive for 2013.

“We will meet this year’s target of around 2.6 billion euros. We might even exceed it,” the PM said.

He added that the government was expecting binding offers for gas operator DEPA and gaming monopoly OPAP before summer and would also divest state oil refiner HELPE within the year.

A replacement to head the privatisation agency is to be nominated to parliament today.

Published on March 11, 2013

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