Athens Digest 23.09.2019

• Institution mission chiefs in Athens with budgets, pending reforms on agenda

• PM aims to promote Greece’s “new image” at the UN General Assembly

Poll: Governing party enjoys 16.5 point lead over opposition SYRIZA

Greek merchant fleet grows by 1.1 percent in July

Tax incentives planned to encourage replacement of old cars with eco-friendly vehicles

# The mission chiefs from the institutions will begin negotiations today with Greek officials in Athens. The negotiations with the European institutions within the context of the 4th enhanced surveillance report on Greece will be completed on Wednesday. Discussions will focus on the 2019 and 2020 budgets, pending reforms as well as the government’s proposals regarding the payment of outstanding debts to the state. The IMF’s mission is expected to continue talks with Greek authorities until Friday as the Fund prepares its report on the Greek economy (Article IV).

Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives in New York today to attend the UN General Assembly aiming to promote Greece’s “new image,” according to government sources. He is expected to meet US President Donald Trump tomorrow. According to several reports, his trip will have a three-fold purpose. Firstly to discuss all foreign policy issues – regional (Turkey, Cyprus, the Balkans, refugees) and global (US relations, trade relations with major economies). Mitsotakis will raise the issue of the increase in migrant flows to Greece from Turkey in his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Secondly, he will highlight his reform plan and the new environment created to attract foreign investment. Thirdly, he plans to take an active role in the discussion on global issues such as climate change.

Ruling New Democracy enjoys a 16.5 point lead over main opposition SYRIZA, according to an opinion poll by Metron Analysis published in To Vima newspaper at the weekend. The poll showed that ND made a gain of six points compared to the previous poll by Metron Analysis right before last summer’s national elections while SYRIZA dropped by one percentage point. More specifically, ND was favored by 39.5-percent versus 23-percent for SYRIZA. Centrist Movement for Change (KINAL) was third with 6.1-percent, slightly ahead of communist KKE with 5.8 percent. Anti-austerity party MeRA25 received 3.8-percnt while far right Greek Solution got 3.3-percent. The government’s performance was positively approved by 63-percent. Moreover, for the first time in four and a half years, the majority of those polled (56-percent) said the country is heading in the right direction.

# Greece’s merchant fleet increased by 1.1- percent in July compared with the same month in the previous year, according to the Hellenic Statistics Authority (ELSTAT). No change was recorded in July 2018 compared with July 2017. At the same time, the gross tonnage of the Greek merchant fleet, for vessels of 100 GRT and over, recorded a decrease of 0.4-percnt in July 2019 compared with July 2018. A decrease of 3.3-percent was also recorded in July 2018 compared with July 2017.

On Our Radar: Tax incentives planned to encourage replacement of old cars with eco-friendly vehicles
The government will provide incentives for people and companies to replace old-technology cars with zero emission vehicles from next year, according to Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Vesyropoulos. He said that these incentives will include lower registration and use levies for cars and that they will be introduced in 2020.