ATHENS – The representatives of Greece’s bailout lenders – also known as the troika – met on Friday in three separate sessions with the Development Minister Nikos Dendias, the Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and the Health Minister Makis Voridis. During the meetings a variety of issues was brought forward by the troika, such as bad loans, liquidity and the reduction of bureaucracy, the changes to Greece’s social insurance and pension system via the unification of the various funds, as well as troika’s request for increased use of generic over brand-name patented medication.
Development Ministry troika deliberations
Development Minister Nikos Dendias concluded a meeting with the heads of the troika of Greece’s lenders on Friday evening, focusing on bad loans, liquidity and the reduction of bureaucracy through the simplification of licensing for new businesses.
A new meeting will be held on Tuesday between the representatives of the troika and the officials of the Private Debt Management Council (Finance, Justice, Development, Labour ministries) while, according to a comment by a top-level Development ministry official following Friday’s meeting, the troika is not pressuring the Greek side to take any particular action on non-performing loans. “We are mindful, we want a solution that will not affect the capital adequacy of banks, and they (the troika) understand the problem”. On the issue of the Sunday opening of stores, the ministry notified the troika’s officials that it aims to go ahead with a study to ascertain whether the measure benefits the market “and if it is not productive, we shall not insist on its implementation”, said the ministry’s senior official.
A meeting between the troika and the Greek labour ministry’s leadership ended on Friday afternoon, with a senior ministry source saying it was chiefly “descriptive” and did not involve negotiations. The issue of reducing social insurance contributions paid by employers by an additional 1 percent is to be examined at the next meeting between the two sides.
Labour Ministry troika deliberations
During Friday’s meeting, attended by Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, Deputy Labour Minister Vassilis Kegeroglou and ministry general secretary Anna Stratinaki, talks focused on the changes to Greece’s social insurance and pension system via the unification of the various funds – an issue that will be raised anew when the troika returns in the autumn. There was also a detailed examination of active policies being implemented through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) to boost employment.
The meeting did not touch on the issue of mass layoffs or a new legislative framework for calling strikes, nor an increase in the maximum number of installments for settling overdue contributions to social insurance funds. According to another senior source, the troika representatives did raise the issue of the Minimum Guaranteed Income due to be introduced on January 1, 2015 and asked that the labour ministry be placed in charge of this, along with other welfare policies like heating benefits and student transfers, in order to link income to benefits and ensure a more effective distribution of welfare payments.
Health Ministry troika deliberations
The troika once again called for increased use of generic over brand-name patented medication in the country, during a meeting with Health Minister Makis Voridis at the finance ministry on Friday. The meeting focused mainly on monitoring and restraining healthcare spending, while the focus of the Greek side was to keep within the budget without dismantling the health system.
Generic medication consumption in Greece now stands at 18-20 pct of the total, with the target of increasing this to 60 pct by the end of the year now seen as unattainable.
Issues addressed included that of providing pharmaceutical coverage for uninsured citizens (with a first-phase budget of 100 million euros), contributions to the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) and social insurance funds so that they keep to their budget, and payments to private clinics and diagnostic centres.
The issue of Non-Prescription Medication has been postponed until the autumn, when a report by an international institute to record prices and boost competition in the specific market is expected to be completed. A senior health ministry source, in statements after the meeting, said it had focused on the finances of the health sector, hospital budgets and EOPYY funding.
The troika representatives will be meeting with Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday at the Finance ministry.
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