Prime Minister’s announcement in an interview with Washington Post that the country will seek to extend the implementation of the measures until 2016 started the countdown for the approval of the new austerity measures and their coming to parliament, government sources told protothema.gr.
Coalition leaders, government officials and the troika have to finalize the package within the next ten days and get it approved by the parliament, to prepare the auditors’ report that should be presented at the EU summit on October 18-19. Meetings that will determine the final synthesis of measures have already started with the green light from coalition parties to be expected within the week.
According to Kathimerini, coalition leaders are due to meet Wednesday or on Thursday to finalize the cuts before Prime Minister Antonis Samaras flies to Rome on Friday to meet Italian Premier Mario Monti. Samaras is aiming to secure an agreement with PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left’s Fotis Kouvelis before leaving.
The government is hoping that after that, Stournaras will conclude talks with the troika and the coalition can draw the relevant bills to be submitted to Parliament.
Following FinMin Yannis Stournaras’ meeting with troika officials yesterday, Finance Ministry sources said there had been “more progress” between the two sides but that the talks would continues. Finance Minister remained evasive on the issue of whether a rise in the retirement age from 65 to 67 would be one of the measures adopted by the coalition in order to clinch the deal with its lenders, Kathimerini writes. “We’ll see,” Stournaras told reporters. “I am more optimistic … we have turned the corner. There is more trust between us and our partners but we still have a long way to go,” Stournaras told the Guardian. “We have to have cleared up everything in the next two weeks so that everything can be put on the table at the [next] euro group meeting on 8 October. If we can’t clear everything there can be no agreement,” he said referring to the EUR 31.5 billion aid installment Athens has been attempting to secure since July.
The government and the troika have already agreed on EUR 7.5 billion worth of cuts in the EUR 11.5 billion austerity package, but talks are continuing as the troika is raising concerns about another EUR 4 billion of cuts, ANA reports. The troika is reportedly placing the two-year increase in the retirement age, from 65 to 67, as a condition for less odious austerity measures in other fields. Public sector layoffs and cuts to pensions and social welfare benefits will also be discussed during the government – troika negotiations.