Staff statement following the fifth post-program mission to Greece

The mission of institution representatives completed its visit to Athens (Jan. 22-24) on Friday, as part of the fifth post-program mission to Greece.

Representatives of Greece’s creditors said they “held productive discussions” on Greece’s commitments and reviewed progress and remaining key challenges, and their report would be published in February.
A statement by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) released on Friday read as follows:

“Staff from the European Commission, in liaison with staff from the European Central Bank, visited Athens from 22 to 24 January for the fifth post-programme mission to Greece. Staff from the IMF participated in the context of its Post-Program Monitoring (PPM) framework. Staff from the European Stability Mechanism participated in the context of its Early Warning System. The mission was prepared by technical discussions in the previous week.

“The mission held productive discussions on the situation, progress made, key challenges still facing the Greek economy and the policy priorities. Particular attention was paid to assessing the implementation of specific reform commitments for end-2019 annexed to the Eurogroup statement of June 2018 as well as the general commitment to continue and complete the key reforms launched under the ESM stability support program.

“Close dialog on economic policy priorities and challenges will continue going forward, and on a regular basis. The fifth enhanced surveillance report will be published next month.”

Finance ministry

A finance ministry official reported that the round of meetings “went well” and that Greece is implementing policies on all levels and making progress on fiscal issues, structural issues and privatisations (with the institutions, more or less agreeing that growth in 2019 will be 2 pct of GDP).
By the end of February, the same official said, there must be progress on the payment of public-sector arrears to the private sector, the social insurance system, private debt and various other issues. He noted that the Eurogroup on March 16 will play a key role in taking decisions on expanding fiscal space for Greece and the government’s plans for the next tax cuts.

He explained that the government’s five proposals to the institutions create fiscal space, directly or indirectly, while clarifying that cuts to the solidarity tax will take precedence over further cuts to the ENFIA property tax. He also expressed a personal preference for using any additional fiscal space for boosting the country’s deterrent capability through defence spending.