Athens Digest 14.03.2019

• Constitutional changes focused on election-trigger rules

• Tsipras seeks early repayment of loans to IMF

• Rate respite: Yield below 1 percent at T-Bill auction

# Parliament votes today on constitutional revision amendments, with attention focused on Article 32 to overhaul rules for electing Greece’s president. Both main parties agree in principle on the need to change the current rules to prevent a deadlocked presidential vote in parliament from triggering a general election. But Syriza and New Democracy remain at odds over how to replace those rules. All constitutional changes approved today by a supermajority (180 votes) must be ratified by the next parliament by a simple majority (151 votes) and vise versa. Today’s result could have implications for the next government, with general elections occurring this year and presidential elections due in early 2020.

# The prime minister has indicated his intention to pay down IMF bailout loans, in a speech to MPs from his Syriza party, in which he branded his conservative political opponents as being pro-austerity. “It may look like we’re at a crossroads but, in fact, one road is moving forward and the other backward: Back to the years of crisis, back to the years of extreme austerity, back to the years of the IMF. The (IMF) is still here, making its presence felt. Some want it to stay, but we have a plan to stop them being here and it soon will be put into action.” According to several reports, Greece plans to proceed in early repayment of its IMF loans with the highest interest rates.

# The yield at a Greek T-Bill auction has fallen below 1 percent. The Public Debt Management Agency said Greece raised EUR 812.5 million at the auction of the 52-week T-Bills. The yield fell to 0.95 percent from 1.09 percent in December. The result provided further evidence of investor appetite for bonds amid an improvement in Greek borrowing rates. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, speaking at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, described this month’s 10-year bond auction as a milestone for Greece.

On our Radar: Central bank boost for FinTech
The Bank of Greece has launched an initiative aimed at assisting and promoting financial technological innovation in Greece’s financial, insurance, trade, and retail sectors. The bank said the new FinTech Hub would offer “support and information to firms and individuals who are introducing or considering the adoption of innovative, technology-driven financial products, services or business models.” The development of digital payment, funding, lending, and management services is seen as being an important factor in Greece’s recovery and efforts to stimulate overseas investment. According to one recent study, the growth of FinTech companies in Greece could boost GDP growth up to 0.6 percent if the value of transactions through FinTech services reaches the European average.