Envoys from Greece’s international lenders are squeezing the uneasy coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader to push the pace of reforms – including firing public workers, privatizing state entities and ending professional monopolies – before releasing more rescue loans.
Inspectors from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) have been meeting with top officials, including Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis to tell them to get going.
Speaking to the newspaper Kathimerini, a high-ranking Finance Minister official said negotiations had “a long way to go” as government officials met with the IMF’s Poul Thomsen, the ECB’s Klaus Masuch and the European Commission’s Matthias Mors. Discussions centered on issues such as the demand of the country’s international creditors for layoffs in the public sector as well as the opening of closed professions, market deregulation and privatizations, among other pending issues.
The coalition government is in the process of identifying civil servants who have violated the code of conduct or used false documents to obtain their position looking for 7,000-8,000 to fire in hopes of fending off the layoffs of 25,000 workers this year and 150,000 over the next three years. The government fears a backlash from labor unions and workers if it proceeds with reducing the hugely bloated public sector.