Greece and its international lenders are close to a deal on its bailout review but differences remain on labour issues, the government’s spokesman said on Thursday.
Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said a comprehensive deal would include a change in Greece’s fiscal mix from 2019 and clarity on medium debt-relief measures.
“Our aim is to have the discussions on a staff level agreement concluded by the next eurogroup meeting (of eurozone finance ministers) of March 20,” he told reporters.
Creditors started fresh negotiations with Athens last week on signing off on a new bailout review under terms of the country’s €86bn financing facility.
Tzanakopoulos said a deal would allow Greece to participate in the European Central Bank’s asset purchase programme and return to financial markets.
“Once we have a comprehensive agreement, there will be a discussion by the ECB on including Greece in QE (quantitative easing). I think there will be a positive development on this issue.”
Greece’s reference to a ‘comprehensive deal’ includes a staff-level agreement with lenders on labour and energy market reforms, clarity on medium-term debt restructuring, and another batch of fiscal measures from 2019 to keep the country’s primary surplus – excluding debt servicing costs – at about 3.5 per cent.
The International Monetary Fund is seeking a relaxation to labour laws which would allow mass layoffs.
“Views of the IMF and Greece are different. We will try to bridge these differences,” Tzanakopoulos said.