Athens Digest 24.01.2019

• Creditors press Athens to finalize bank plan

• Minimum wage to rise in February

• Censure motion threat fizzles

# Bailout inspectors are pressing the government towards an agreement on legislation required for a banking support plan, as their second surveillance mission continues in Athens. Senior bankers and the government, meanwhile, reportedly remain at odds in negotiations to revise rules protecting low-income mortgage holders from foreclosure _ a revision closely linked to the bank programme.

# Regarding the 16 pending commitments of the Greek Authorities which are related with the second European post bailout report, the property protection scheme is considered a crucial issue for lenders ahead of the final decision on the payout of ECB bond profits to Greece. Other outstanding issues _which are not expected to be deal breaker points though_ are appointments to senior administrative positions and the delayed coastal development at Hellenikon, south of Athens. Today’s talks with bailout inspectors will cover energy, public administration, other structural reforms, a financial follow-up, and fiscal developments.

# New Democracy appears to have backed away from a plan to table a no-confidence motion ahead of parliament’s vote tonight to ratify the Prespa agreement. More protests are planned today, including a threat by farmers to close road access to Bulgarian and FYROM border crossings. But the government has not lost any of its declared supporters and is on course to receive support from 152 MPs in the 300-seat parliament. Speaking to the State owned Athens News Agency, United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz urged Athens to follow through with ratification, and warned that the “consequences of the failure will be profound on both sides.”

# Effie Achtsioglou, the labour minister, has confirmed that a minimum wage hike will be approved by the end of the month. The minister met yesterday with representatives of creditor institutions who according to sources from the Ministry raised no objections to the wage hike. The minister told the financial daily Naftemporiki before the meeting that the changes would take effect in February. She confirmed that the raise would be below 10 percent, meaning workers would not return to pay levels in 2012 when the minimum wage was axed. A separate wage category for workers under age 25 will be scrapped, she said.

On our Radar: Pensions and Poverty 
Nearly a third of Greek pensioners collect monthly cheques of less than EUR 500, according to the Labour Ministry data from its Helios platform. Nearly 600,000 out of 1.97 million pensioners were in that low income category. The data showed the average monthly income for pensions last September was EUR 724, roughly unchanged over the year.