Athens Digest 25.10.2018

• Holding back the … arrears

• Fiscal check up ahead of decision on pensions

• Bank deposits rising but credit remains weak

• Drugs, anarchists and… universities

# Total government arrears have reached a whopping EUR 6 billion, according to a comprehensive audit presented to parliament. The figure that includes debts to taxpayers, businesses, and suppliers, was provided in a detailed five-month study requested by Greece’s international creditors _ and saw the total jump from EUR 4.76 billion less than two years ago. The report was compiled by the Court of Audit, which has constitutionally-backed powers to examine state finances. It found high debts from enterprises that include state hospitals, and public transport companies, while finances at publicly-backed health and pension funds appeared to have stabilized.

# Officials from Greece’s creditor institutions are expected to examine closely-watched primary surplus data. European officials have appeared favourable to Greece’s view that the planned pension cuts may no longer be necessary, but the ESM’s Klaus Regling has cautioned that there may be no fiscal space for a total roll back. Meanwhile, Greece’s Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research, IOBE, said the growth rate was on target to reach 2 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2019, roughly in line with government and EU projections.

# Bank deposits in Greece continue to edge upwards but credit in the economy remains weak in September, according to figures issued by the Bank of Greece. The central bank said total deposits reached EUR 131.7 billion from 131.6 the previous month. In September, the annual growth rate of credit to the private sector was -1.3 percent with a positive monthly net flow of EUR 541 million, compared to August figures of -1.5 percent and a negative net flow of EUR 307 million. Overall, the the annual growth rate of total credit extended to the economy in September was -1.8 percent.

On our Radar: Drugs, anarchists and universities
The anarchist group Rubicon vowed to maintain a presence with an office at Athens University’s Department of Philosophy despite protests by academic staff. The group said it would ‘return a thousand times” if they were expelled.
Elsewhere in the capital, the Athens University of Economics and Business canceled classes to protest the widespread drug use at its entrance and the area where it is located. The Reuters news agency reported on the one-day strike. Opposition is focusing on education and security, considering them as top-priority issues. Conservatives’ leader Mitsotakis vowed to scrap academic asylum rules banning police from entering campuses without permission from the academic leadership when illegal actions take place.