Athens Digest 12.03.2019

• Greece misses mark at Eurogroup for payout

• Despite delay, Athens takes positives from Eurogroup

• Creditors see no rift with IMF, stress Greek issue is now a European concern

• Mitsotakis tells CNN conservatives committed to tax cuts

# Greece will have to wait for another month for its debt relief payout, as European creditors confirmed that reform deadlines has been missed. Eurogroup ministers, as expected, made no decision on the Greek disbursement, mostly from ECB bond profits. “If all reform commitments are met, the Eurogroup will in April consider the implementation of further debt relief measures envisaged in our June 2018 meeting,” said Mario Centeno, the president of the Eurogroup,

# “Greece indeed has made a lot of progress since leaving the program last August,” the ESM’s Klaus Regling said after the Eurogroup meeting. “There are few outstanding issues … And therefore I share a view that it was right for the Eurogroup to decide to wait until there’s full clarity. And I think that can indeed happen over the next few weeks.” The assessment regarding Greece’s debt relief package, worth EUR 974 mn, was deferred to the April 5 Eurogroup meeting. Key outstanding issue from the list of 16 pending reforms remains the new first residence protection scheme. “Technical details” remained to be sorted out before new household insolvency rules are finalised, stressed Commissioner Moscovici (video here, scroll to 08.40). Greek official in Athens argued that remaining differences could be worked out by the next Euro-working Group on March 25.

# Creditors last night played down any disagreement on Greece with the IMF, describing news reports as exaggerated while stressing that the Europeans are squarely in charge of the country’s post-programme surveillance. “The role of the IMF, of course, is very different in this new era,” Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said. “The IMF is a precious institution for all of us but this is now a European (issue). The way we elaborated our post-programme surveillance report was in close contact with the ESM, with the ECB, and with the IMF, so there’s no point in imagining some divergences which are at least overestimated.”

# Kyriakos Mitsotakis told CNN in an interview that a New Democracy government would aggressively follow through on tax cuts and additional reforms to make Greece more investment-friendly. “Greece could be a surprise success story over the next two to three years. The problem with Greece was always primarily political. If we sort out the politics, a lot of the difficult measures already behind us a lot of the structural reforms that we need to implement we know how to do them and how to deliver real growth.” Mitsotakis renewed a pledge to slash corporate tax from 29 percent to 20 percent in two years and cut real estate tax by 30 percent over the next three years. He also stressed that the return of corporate deposits may support banks: “I think that there is room to improve the liquidity of the banks. We have EUR 12 bn of corporate deposits abroad; I would encourage Greek business people to return corporate deposits to the Greek banks.”

# On our Radar: The Lucky Passenger 
The lone survivor of Ethiopian Airlines tragedy was a passenger stopped at the boarding gate for being minutes late _ a Greek recycling business owner who fought in vain to be allowed on at Addis Ababa airport. A day after the crash killed all 157 people on the plane, Antonis Mavropoulos said he was still coming to terms with what had happened. “I didn’t check my suitcase in, because I was thinking about the short layover between connecting flights,” he told Skai TV from Nairobi. “If I had checked my bag in, they would have waited for me and would have made in on … It is a very difficult moment for me, the kind that can change your life.”