Athens Digest 27.06.2018

• Further cracks over FYROM’s name deal threaten coalition’s parliamentary majority

• House majority not in danger, Greece has momentum says PM Tsipras after meeting with May in London

• Government is in panic says opposition; Mitsotakis meets Scholz and Seehofer in Berlin

• IMF mission in Athens ahead of Article IV report

# The name deal between Greece and FYROM has caused further cracks within the coalition government, whose majority in parliament was reduced further yesterday to 152 (out of 300 seats) after a lawmaker, Giorgos Lazaridis, from junior partner ANEL declared his independence. The MP voted against the recent motion of censure submitted by the opposition for the same reason.

# The government linked Lazaridis’ move to an alleged plan hatched by business interests linked to New Democracy in order to provoke coalition leaks. New Democracy answered in a statement that the government is “panicking because it realizes it is collapsing.” Meanwhile, the party’s leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is visiting Berlin. Today’s agenda includes meetings with the German MinFin Olaf Scholz and the Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer.

# Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras dismissed concerns his ruling coalition was in danger of losing its parliamentary majority, saying that his government has the necessary resilience and is “too hard to die”. Speaking to reporters after meeting with his UK counterpart Theresa May in London yesterday, Tsipras said his “government has continuity and will reach the end of its four-year term.” He added that his visit to London built on Greece’s recent momentum. The visit is part of a series of initiatives aimed at raising Greece’s business profile following last week’s landmark agreement with European bailout lenders.

# IMF mission is meeting with ministry officials involved in the ESM bailout program in Athens to monitor Greece’s economic performance and to consult with the government about its post-bailout intentions. According to media reports, government officials are sounding out the IMF staff over the possibility that the first increases to the minimum wage can take place within the year, rather than 2019. Talks will end on Thursday while the IMF’s “Article IV” report will be released in mid July. It will include its own DSA which is expected with interest by Greece, its European partners and the markets.

# For his part, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said in an interview to the Athens News Agency that within July he will submit a report on the government’s tax relief measures in 2019 which will total EUR700 million.

On our Radar: Doctors’… statistics
The government’s plans to reverse the country’s brain drain of doctors have reportedly received another blow as the second “invitation” extended to them by the Health Ministry to staff local health units (TOMY) received negligible response, with only a few dozen responding to the ministry’s call. According to Athens Medical Association, some 7,581 doctors from Athens have gone abroad between 2010 and 2016, while around 17,500 doctors are working away from Greece. Nonetheless, the number of doctors per hundred people has increased from 6.3 in 2014 to 6.6 in 2016 according to ELSTAT, the Greek statistics agency. There are currently 71,000 registered doctors – the highest number in a decade.