Athens Digest 09.01.2019

• MinFin Tsakalotos irritated by central bank chief’s remarks and sees no problem with the SMPs and ANFAs returns

• Coalition talks after Merkel visit

• Always on Sunday? High court backs longer trading

• Terrorists’ Group claimed responsibility for bomb attack at Skai TV

# Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos admitted he has been irritated by public remarks made by Yannis Stournaras and accused the central bank chief of overstepping. “Mr Stournaras does not avoid publicity and that causes us problems,” Tsakalotos told News247 radio. “We have different views on growth. It would be good if he confined himself to his role.” The minister said Greece intended to raise some EUR 7 billion in bond markets in 2019 but rely in the cash buffer until conditions improve. Accordig to his statements, after its second post-programme report, Greece will receive bond profits without any difficulty. “I don’t see any problem with the SMPs and the ANFAs and they (the institutions) haven’t showed that there is any problem,” he said. He added that his government remained committed to HRADF’s privatisation targets. “HRADF’s privatizations will continue. Regarding HCAP’s assets, there is no commitment for privatization.” Referring to the legislated upcoming reduction of the tax threshold, he said that the issue will be handled at the appropriate time: “The government has proved that it can negotiate properly and make it.”

# In the same interview, Tsakalotos appeared confident the government had secured the majority of lawmakers needed to ratify the Macedonia-name agreement, despite the expected withdrawal of Defence Minister Kammenos’ Independent Greeks over the issue. The government, Tsakalotos said, would not call a vote of confidence if Kammenos withdraws, and challenged New Democracy to come forward with a censure motion.

# Prime Minister Tsipras is due to meet coalition partner Panos Kammenos, the defence minister, on Friday, after tomorrow’s visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two sides try to manage the expected coalition breakup. Kammenos, meanwhile, will meet with MPs from his Independent Greeks party today, amid widely reported reluctance by several senior party members to give up their government posts.

# A high court has backed a 2017 Finance Ministry decision to extend Sunday trading _ effectively reversing an earlier ruling. The Council of State said the decision to extend trading in areas popular with tourists between May and October was not in violation of the constitution. The legal challenge had been backed by several small business associations which argue that Sunday trading gives large chains an additional advantage.

# The far-left militant Popular Fighters Group has claimed responsibility for a bomb attack last month against private Skai television. The group has previously carried out attacks against court buildings, banks, political offices, and the German ambassador’s residence.

On our Radar: Migrant dies at Moria
Authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy following the death of a migrant from Cameroon on the island of Lesvos. The 24-year-old man was staying at the Moria refugee camp on the island and was rushed to hospital by a group of fellow asylum seekers. Authorities said he was staying in a heated container- home but did not comment further on the possible cause of the man’s death. It occurred during a cold weather spell that caused school closures on the island and across Greece.