Athens Digest 12.11.2018

• Tsipras meets with Scholz, addresses SPD conference

• Non implementation of pension cuts will be permanent, says Deputy Minister to the PM

• Poor implementation of reforms worries lenders

• Devastating summer wildfire remembered during 36th Athens Marathon

# Ahead of the final talks on the Greek 2019 budget and the November 19 Eurogroup, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met on Saturday with German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz in Berlin. “We discussed all the outstanding issues concerning the better functioning of the Eurozone ahead of the decisions which will be made in December,” Tsipras tweeted. The PM and leader of leftist ruling Syriza party also addressed the SPD conference. However, he came under criticism by the opposition in Greece for saying during his speech that back in 2015 a “clear mind” helped him take the right decisions and avoid grexit which would have harmed the most vulnerable groups.

# The government is expected to submit the 2019 budget to Parliament by November 21, according to Dimitris Liakos, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister,. Speaking to News 24/7, Liakos said that pension cuts will not be included and the decision not to implement them will be “permanent”. He added that the government must agree with the European Commission on the fiscal policies needed to meet the budget’s targets.

# Meanwhile, the government is expected to face opposition from its lenders as the first post-bailout enhanced surveillance report will note that Greece is lagging behind in the implementation of the reforms it has committed to push through by the end of the year.

# Around 55,000 runners from 105 countries participated yesterday in the 36th Athens Authentic Marathon whose route crossed areas close to the sea resort of Mati which bore the brunt of the devastating wildfire that ripped through eastern Attica last July, leaving 99 people dead. Scores of residents lined the route holding up signs in English reading “We will never forget” and urged the government to stick to its relief promises. The run from the township of Marathon to Athens’ Panathinaic Stadium was won by Kenyan Kipkorir Misoi in a record time of 2:10:56.

On Our Radar: Hirings in the public sector contradict streamlining objectives
The promise made by the government to hire 34,500 people in the public sector over the next two years has been strongly criticized by the opposition as a gift ahead of general elections. According to Naftemporiki newspaper, latest data show that efforts to streamline the sector have failed. More specifically, instead of hiring one person for every five that departed in 2106, 9,810 left and 8,211 were recruited. The same 1:1 ratio was maintained in 2017 instead of a 4:1. In 2018, the ratio was supposed to be 3:1 but, until August, 5,177 left the public sector and 4,517 were hired.