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Greek PM and Vice President Agree on Social Security Issues In Troika Negotiations

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Government Vice-President Evangelos Venizelos came to an agreement on social security during a meeting yesterday evening which lasted two hours.
The two political leaders also agreed on improvements necessary for the restructuring of non-performing business loans. The issue had been raised on Wednesday between Troika representatives and Greek Minister of Development Nikos Dendias.
Samaras and Venizelos were also briefed by Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and Samaras’ close aide Stavros Papastavrou regarding the operation of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), the body responsible for auctioning state assets. Problems were identified with the government’s privatization program, particularly regarding the sale of ports and regional airports. It was agreed, however, that the privatization must be completed.
According to PASOK sources, the PM and Deputy PM were briefed on the results of the actuarial studies of Greece’s social security fund. These studies, which were described as positive, will provide a strong basis for explaining to the Troika representatives that further cuts to pensions and other social security reforms are unnecessary.
With its political future hanging in the balance, the Samaras government is desperate to avoid implementing additional austerity measures. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Troika will waiver from its insistence on further reforms and pension cuts.
Samaras and Venizelos also agreed to hold a firm line on the issue of mass layoffs. The Troika has called for a liberalization of labor laws that would open the way for mass layoffs, along with other changes to laws governing unions. The Prime Minister is resisting; He has the support of the International Labour Organization and other bodies, a fact which is expected to add significant weight to his arguments.
In regards to changes in the framework for the restructuring of non-performing business loans, Samaras and Venizelos accepted the Development Ministry’s recommendations.
The coalition government leaders also discussed their preparations for the upcoming parliamentary vote of confidence, which the government announced yesterday. Both men reportedly agreed that the political reverberations from the announcement had thus far proved receptive.

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