Athens Digest 30.04.2018

• Greece on track for clean exit, government insists while opposition challenges on early elections

• Property value changes expected by end of May, report says

• Residents of Hellinikon go to State Council over resort project

• Defense Council gives nod of approval for F-16 upgrade

• NBG to proceed with sale of subsidiary, two bidders from China left

# Greece is on track for a deal at the June 21 Eurogroup that will seal a clean bailout exit and outline debt relief details, according to Government Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos. He said that talk about an extension of the programme, a precautionary credit line or further austerity “have been refuted.” Greece’s fiscal course, he added, will allow an easing of austerity without creating problems for midterm targets. “I think this position is shared by most of our European creditors.” New Democracy party said the prospect of post-bailout “enhanced surveillance” has punctured the narrative of a clean exit. It urged the government to call elections after August.

# Despite speculation of delays in the implementation of the fundamental prior action of setting new taxable property rates (known as objective values) and making changes to the ENFIA property tax, finance ministry sources insist that “everything will be done on time” along with the completion of the final bailout review. The finance ministry is, reportedly, aiming to set new zone rates via a ministerial decision in May. If necessary, the ENFIA tax brackets and rates will be adjusted in order to ensure that the target of EUR 3.2 billion in annual revenue remains intact.

# A total of 507 residents and 4 bodies have appealed to the Council of State, the country’s highest legal authority, challenging the constitutionality and legitimacy of the Presidential Decree which gave the “green light” for the planned resort development at the site of the former airport at Hellinikon in southern Athens. The plaintiffs claim the delayed-plagued project, a key part of the government’s privatization program under its bailout obligations, will irreversibly damage their quality of life and the natural environment, as well as the principle of sustained development that is enshrined in the constitution.

# Greece’s Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) gave its unanimous nod of approval on Saturday to a deal for the upgrade of 85 F-16 jets by the US Lockheed Martin until 2028. Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said that the aerospace firm accepted a revised Greek payment proposal that factors in Greece’s fiscal commitments in coming years. US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt welcomed the decision.

# The National Bank, the country’s second largest lender that after consultation with the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, it will continue the process for the sale of its Ethniki Insurance subsidiary with the two runners up of the previous phase of bidding in May 2017 – China’s Fosun and Gongbao. The bank sale is part of an EU-approved restructuring plan to end non-banking operations.

On our Radar: Greeks critical of government’s stance over Turkey
More than half of Greeks (54%) think the government is probably wrong in the way it is handling relations with Turkey, according to a survey conducted by Public Issue. 74 percent said the most significant issue dividing the two countries is Turkey’s questioning of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean, while 81 percent said relations have worsened since last year. 56% said that New Democracy’s criticism of the government’s over the issue is most likely wrong. Interestingly, 62% said they have a negative view of NATO.