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Saturday, 3 August 2013

THE UFOS IN THAT LATEST IMF PAPER, PLUS WHAT WE WILL BE DEMONSTRATING ABOUT THIS YEAR

One of the easiest ways for journos to get a scoop these days is to go through the latest IMF projections for Greece and search for the word 'unidentified.' This is basically another way of saying 'not sure how.'

The word occurs 11 times in the latest review of Greece's programme, and although not each UFO (unidentified fiscal objective) tells a story, together they tell the following two:

  • Page 46: The programme is short of financing: EUR4.4bn in 2014 and 6.5bn (2.4% and 3.4% of GDP respectively) in 2015, as original commitments anticipated market access around this year. 
  • Page 50: The Greek government will have to bring forward 100m of savings or revenue in 2013 and  find an additional EUR3.4bn and EUR0.7bn (or 1.8% and 0.2% of GDP)  in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
  • Note that the IMF aggregates figures assuming all unidentified savings will be delivered.

Also, watch out for the following demonstration hotspots:

  1. The Government will prepare a new draft Medium Term Fiscal Strategy (pg 82) by early September.
  2. The Government will call for expressions of interest from potential buyers of EYDAP in Q4 2013 (Pg 96)
  3. By October 2013, any state entity that is not contributing to the Commitment Register (i.e. the central register of approved spending that doesn't yet correspond to actual invoices) will have its state funding cut off, unless it has a budget of under EUR1m.
  4. An audit of Social Security Funds is due by end-August (pg 88)
  5. A new Code for Lawyers is supposed to have been rolled out by end-July (pg 92).
  6. Greece is supposed to have rolled out its anti-corruption action plan by end July 2013. The tax administration version of this plan has been ready since January and can be read in Greek here. Warning: it opens with a Gandhi quote. 
  7. New reforms to social security contributions are due by November (pg 94) 
  8. Electronic import declarations should be phased in by end November (pg 94)
  9. By end September some medical supplies will be available to buy outside of pharmacies (gasp!)
  10. By end 2013 the government is meant to have hired 400 new collections officers to claw back overdue social security contributions from employers (pg 86-7)
  11. The Government plans to consolidate all agencies related to tax administration and economic crime, and has already prepared the legal framework that will allow this (Pg 84)
  12. A whole raft of new luxury laws will come in by end of August 2013 and a memorandum of understanding will be signed with Greek shipowners (pg 79). I think the first shorts of that battle have already been fired


And a parting note. If you want to feel in your bones the sheer evil of Greek government bureaucracy, read page 82 on how we intend to comply with the Late Payment Directive. Then read pg 86 on the treatment of VAT owed to businesses. The Greek Government is calmly informing the world that it intends to break the spirit, if not the letter, of the Late Payment Directive.

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