Athens Digest 03.05.2019

• Greece gets EUR 1bn debt relief, pitches IMF repayment plan

• Budget surplus spending to ease tax burden, says government

• Private sector pay at lowest level since start of crisis

• Fake news monitor partners with Facebook in Greece ahead of European election 

# Greek officials say creditors have raised no objections to Athens’ request for early repayment of higher-interest IMF loans. The presentation was made at a meeting of the Eurogroup’s working group in Brussels. Also yesterday, the European Financial Stability Facility formally approved a package of debt relief measures worth nearly EUR 1 billion, with improved repayment terms and the payout of Greek government bond profits made by euro area central banks. ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling said the decision was made in response to Greece’s ongoing reform commitment. “Continuing on the reform path will enhance Greece’s growth potential, strengthen the country’s economy, and will also make it easier for Greece to repay its loans,” he said.

# The government says it will deliver a fiscal space worth 0.6 percent of GDP this year, according to its medium-term Stability Program submitted to the EU Commission as part of the European Semester framework. The primary surplus (enhanced surveillance definition) is forecast at 4,1 percent of GDP in 2019, 3,9 percent in 2020, 4,1 percent in 2021, and 4,6 percent of GDP in 2022. The additional money, the Finance Ministry said in the 34-page document, “will be used for the deployment of fiscal measures that sustain growth and protect the most vulnerable” as well as “reducing progressively the tax burden while fully respecting the medium-term fiscal target commitments.”

# Private sector wages last year sank to their lowest level since the financial crisis began in 2010, according to the data from the Unified Social Security Fund, EFKA. The average monthly salary reached EUR 916 (EUR 769 net) last November. That average was EUR 1,137 for full-time employees and EUR 384 for those working part-time. Between November 2017 and November 2018, the average salary dropped by 1 percent on the year and nearly 6 percent from 2015. Part-time contracts have continued to take up a larger share of the workforce, reaching nearly 30 percent at the end of last year. Some 650,000 part-time employees in the private sector received an average net pay of just EUR 322 euros per month.

On our Radar: Pre-election hoax monitor
Facebook has partnered with a fact-checking service in Greece as part of a campaign to fight false news reporting ahead of the European Parliament elections. In a joint announcement, Facebook said it has chosen the Ellinika Hoaxes online service to assist in Greece. The addition brings to 21 the number of European fact-checking partners involved in the programme, examining content in 14 languages. Hoaxes and fake news reports posted in the Greek site include false reports on Muslim extremism, same-sex marriage, unfounded health scares and fabricated gossip items on celebrities.