Grey smoke rose on Wednesday from the chimney of the headquarters of Greek government. The meeting between prime minister Antonis Samaras and the Troika representatives did not end in agreement. Main issues of dispute are reductions of the numbers of civil servants (lay-offs), extension of the emergency property tax in the electricity bills and repayment of outstanding debts to tax offices and social security funds.
On Thursday morning, the Troika issued a statement speaking of “significant progress in the negotiations, stressing that the points in abeyance are a few. The representatives of IMF, EU and ECB will return to Athens beginning of April to conclude the negotiations.
Until the two sides agree on all topics, the bailout disbursement of 2.8 billion euro – originally due in March- will most probably be in Athens towards end of April.
During the three-week break, Samaras government will have to find ways to ‘sell’ the Troika demands to the public and its own partners with the less political cost.
PASOK and Democratic Left seem to disagree to lay-offs in the public sector.
As for the emergency property tax, finance minister Yiannis Stournaras tries to find a loophole in the Constitution and extend it for at least one more year. In February 2012, the country’s supreme Court had ruled that the E.P.T. violates the constitution, if it would be imposed for more than two years.
More details in English: ekathimerini)