ATHENS – Facing a two-month extension on a memorandum with international lenders, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is meeting with his Finance Ministry team to plan negotiations over how to close a 2015 budget gap.
The Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) says there’s a hole of up to three billion euros in next year’s spending blueprint but the government insists it’s much less – or that there isn’t one.
Samaras had hoped to take an early exit from the harsh terms of 240 billion euros ($306 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika but unfinished reforms and the gap dispute forced him to accept the extension as he tries to avoid implementing more of the austerity measures that have decimated support for his coalition government.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Presidential election which threatens to derail the administration of his New Democracy Conservatives and its partner the PASOK Socialsits, the Finance Ministry is reportedly continuing to prepare the ground for an agreement with the Troika, whose technical teams are in Athens.
Another issue that needs to be settled is whether Parliament will have to approve the two-month extension of the existing bailout, which has been agreed with the Eurozone.