Athens Digest 10.07.2019

• New PM reaches out to world leaders, sets up Germany visit

• New finance minister says tax cuts a priority

• EU recommendations: Greece should stick to surplus targets

• OPAP: Sazka seeks takeover

# PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke to US President Donald Trump last night on his first full day as prime minister and agreed to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in late August. Mitsotakis will make his first foreign visit to Cyprus _ a tradition for new Greek leaders _ at the end of the month and is expected to travel to Germany for the Merkel meeting around August 20.

# Christos Staikouras, the new finance minister, vowed swift implementation of promised tax cuts during a handover ceremony with Euclid Tsakalotos. “We will proceed with easing the tax burden on households and businesses,” Staikouras said. The 45-year-old new minister faces immediate challenges of putting public finances back on track and helping speed up banks’ disposal of soured loans, describing challenges to the economy as a “lit fuse.”

# The European Union is urging Greece to stick to its post-programme commitments, according to country-specific recommendations (CSR) highlighted at yesterday’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council. The European Commission recommends that Greece take action in 2019 and 2020 to “achieve a sustainable economic recovery and tackle the excessive macroeconomic imbalances by continuing and completing reforms in line with the post-programme commitments given at the Eurogroup of 22 June 2018.” According to the CSR, Greece must focus investment-related economic policy on sustainable transport and logistics, environmental protection, energy efficiency, renewable energy and interconnection projects, digital technologies, R&D, education, skills, employability, health, and the renewal of urban areas, taking into account regional disparities and the need to ensure social inclusion.

# Czech investment group Sazka Group is seeking full ownership of Greek leading betting firm  OPAP, in a bid that saw the suspension of trading of the company’s shares on the Athens Stock Exchange. Sazka-controlled Emma Delta bought a 33 percent stake in OPAP in 2013 for some EUR 650 million _ in an agreement that was part of a creditor-backed privatisation programme. Sazka said it wants to buy the remaining stake at EUR 9.12 a share.

On our Radar: Day One Resignations
Greek Police chief Aristeidis Andrikopoulos has reportedly resigned hours after Michalis Chrisochoidis was sworn in as the new minister of public order. Moreover, on the first day of the new government, the heads of state broadcaster ERT and the Athens News Agency have submitted their resignations, too.