Athens Digest 21.11.2018

• Greece revved up for budget green light from Brussels

• Reuters: Privatisation delays could hold up bond-profit payout

• Nouy cautious on Greek bad-loan plan

• Greece joins EU power trading bloc

# Greece says it is “certain” of positive results in its European assessments of the 2019 budget and announced it was ready to spend some EUR 900 million on tax relief and social/welfare projects while ditching planned pension cuts. The government is planning a blitz of draft legislation and amendments to flank the revised budget, with December votes in parliament to scrap pension cuts, and ease some business and property taxes to usher the government into the election year. Speaking in the European Parliament, Eurogroup President Mario Centeno praised Greek progress. “The fiscal performance has been outstanding,” he said.

# Despite the upbeat mood in the government_and ahead of the country’s first enhanced surveillance report _ Reuters is reporting that delays in privatisations could prompt creditors to hold off on a EUR 600 million December payout of ECB profit returns on Greek bond holdings. “The return of the first EUR 600 million from the Greek bond yields held by the European central banks will be based on an assessment of the commitments made by the country with a timetable for implementation from the end of the program and until December 31,” Alt. MinFin George Chouliarakis said. The tranche would still need approval from Eurozone parliaments including those of Germany and the Netherlands.

# The outgoing chair of the ECB Supervisory Board of the ECB, Daniele Nouy, has reacted cautiously to an emerging plan to deal with the bad-loan mountain at Greek banks. At a briefing in the European Parliament, Nouy reportedly described elements of the plan under discussion as “something complicated” that was still at an early stage. Following extensive consultations, Greek central bank governor Yannis Stournaras is preparing to make public the bank’s proposals to deal with massive volume of non-performing loans and exposures at Greek banks as the sell-off continues on the Athens Stock Exchange, dragging the general index to below 600 points.

# A newly-created Greek power exchange has joined a European Union-based initiative aimed at harmonizing the energy market across the bloc. Hellenic Energy Exchange, HEnEx, became the the eight member of the so-called Price Coupling of Regions Initiative which operates in the day-ahead market in which power delivery is agreed for the following day.

On our Radar: Promotion Hurdle
The cost of marketing and promotion in foreign markets is the main obstacle for Greek companies hoping to become more export oriented, according to a survey by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises. Some 45 percent of businesses found promotional costs to be a hindering factor. It was followed by: Finding adequate financing (34 percent), export insurance costs (28 percent), bureaucracy and corruption in target markets (26 percent), lack of bilateral agreements with target countries (20 percent), difficulty in payment collection overseas (18 percent), customs procedures abroad (17 percent) and in Greece (15 percent), limited production volume (15 percent), cultural differences (11 percent) and procedures for visas and admissions 7 percent). The federation said the survey highlighted the need for state support for export companies and potential exporters.