|Friday, 15 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-07-17
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 IMF: Greece 'broadly on track'The International Monetary Fund (IMF) late Friday issued its interim report "Greece Stand-By Arrangement - Review under the Emergency Financing Mechanism", in which it finds that the Greek stability program is broadly on track, with the Greek authorities having made considerable progress in putting the public finances on a sustainable path and have implemented major reforms ahead of schedule.
According to a press release by the IMF, the review "presents the findings of an IMF staff visit to Athens during June 14-18, 2010...conducted in cooperation with the European Commission and the ECB" for the purpose of conducting "an interim review of economic developments and policy implementation, as called for under the Fundās Emergency Financing Mechanism (EFM)".
"The report confirms the preliminary conclusions of the interim mission. In particular, the program appears to be broadly on track as authorities are making considerable progress in putting public finances on a sustainable path and are implementing major reforms, including of the pension system, ahead of schedule," the report said, adding that a more comprehensive review of the program is scheduled for July 26-August 6, 2010.
"Completion of this comprehensive review by the Fundās Executive Board -expected in early September- will make the next tranche under the stand-by arrangement of SDR 2.1627 billion (about US$3.27 billion) available to the Greek authorities," the IMF press release said.
According to a five-point Executive Summary of the report:
With regard to the overall strategy of the program: "The authorities are making progress to put the public finances on a sustainable path, complemented with structural reforms to boost competitiveness and growth, while seeking an equitable distribution of the adjustment burden across all levels of society and protecting the most vulnerable."
In the second point, the report states that: "Economic activity is declining as expected with the downturn projected to become more acute as the year goes on. The decline is led by cuts in government spending, with some latent buoyancy in private consumption. Inflation is running higher than expected as indirect tax increases are not (even partially) absorbed in margins. Unit labor costs are, however, moderating considerably, and unemployment is rising."
In the third point: "State budget implementation is on track with good expenditure control. However, hospitals and social security funds present clear risks, as do financial pressures in public enterprises. These three areas are not directly controlled by the state budget and require more attention. The pension reform contains significant reductions in future pension costs, even though it is not clear that the authorities can bring them down from 12.5 ppts of GDP before the reform to 2.5 ppts in one step, as aimed in the program. A full actuarial assessment of the reform will take more time than foreseen in the program."
In the fourth point: "Banks face continued liquidity pressures and some solvency erosion but plans are in place to deal with this. Sharp downgrades of the sovereign led to margin calls on collateralized borrowing. Deposits also are quite soft. That said, the European Central Bank (ECB) is assisting Greek banks to tide them over the liquidity crunch. NPLs are rising but banksā capital remains well above the regulatory minimum and the Financial Stability Fund is nearly in place."
In the fifth point: "Structural reforms are progressing. The authorities announced a privatization program, labor reforms, a local government reform, and initiatives to liberalize closed professions. They are ahead of schedule in setting up a public sector employment and wage census."
The report further notes that the IMF is "encouraged by the progress so far in view of the difficult situation the country faces", noting that the first full review of the program will be conducted during a mission to Athens at end-July, and Board discussion of this review is planned for early September.
 PM to visit Sofia to discuss pipelinePrime Minister George Papandreou is to head a government delegation to Sofia this month to discuss the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis told MPs in Parliament while briefing them on a bill regulating issues relating to the planned pipeline.
Maniatis made the statement to Parliament's Production and Trade Committee on Thursday, announcing that the Greek side intended a series of diplomatic initiatives toward the Bulgarian side, which recently announced its decision to bow out of the agreement for the pipeline's construction.
The deputy minister said the construction of the oil pipeline remains a top priority for the government's foreign policy in energy, listing a number of advantages from its construction.
 Droutsas at OSCE conf'Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas had a series of bilateral meetings in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers' meeting on Friday.
Droutsas met with EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy Baroness Catherine Ashton, the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Spain, Serbia, Israel and Turkey, and with US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg.
During his meeting with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Droutsas brought up the recent moves of the Turkish vessel Piri Reis inside the continental shelf of Greek islands, stressing the inconsistency between Turkey's statements and actions. He warned that Ankara's recent actions undermine the prospects for improvement of Greek-Turkish relations and bilateral cooperation.
Droutsas further stressed Greece's continued desire for normalization of relations with Turkey and progress in the issue of delimitation of the Aegean continental shelf through exploratory contacts, pointing out, however, that recent actions, and particularly the appearance of the Piri Reis in the Greek continental shelf not only do not contribute to improvement of relations but instead contain the risk of annulment of the entire effort.
During the meeting of the ministers of the 56 OSCE member countries acknowledged the Corfu Process as the legacy of last year's Greek presidency of the organisation for enhancing security in the European area.
At the OSCE ministerial meeting in Athens last year, at the Greek presidency's initiative, the ministers adopted a Political Declaration on the Corfu Process and relevant ministerial decision for development of the Process, establishing the Greek initiative officially as an OSCE process.
It was also decided during the meeting that the next OSCE Summit meeting will be held in the Kazakhstan capital Astana, 11 years after the previous summit, which was held in Istanbul in 1999.
Caption: Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas with EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy Baroness Catherine Ashton at an OSCE foreign ministers' meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan. (ANA-MPA/P. Moschandreou)
 SYN decides action planThe Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) Central Political Committee on Saturday concluded a two-day meeting for drafting the party's action plan up to the local government elections in November.
The party's aim is to render the elections a vehicle for manifestation of the citizens' displeasure with the government's policy through backing candidates who have raised their voices against the Memorandum signed with the EU and the IMF.
A decision was also taken for a series of actions to highlight the unifying role that the party and the SYN-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance can play in the wider area of the Left.
The Central Political Committee further decided to organise a rally and protest march during the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in September, where the prime minister traditionally unveils economic policy for the following year, and to begin an informational campaign for and participation in a Europe-wide labor strike that has been called for September 29.
A series of activities was also planned on social and environmental problems.
The meeting was addressed on Friday by party leader and SYRIZA parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras.
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