A finance ministry general secretary on Thursday was quoted as saying that the Greek state's arrears to the private sector have been reduced by 1.5 billion euros, a figure he claimed exceeds a target by 300 million euros.
The general secretary for fiscal policy, Frangiskos Koutentakis, made the statement amid the start of negotiations in Athens this week between the Greek side and international creditors' top auditors. The talks are aimed at concluding the third review of the ongoing third successive Greek bailout by the end of the year.
Creditors have made it crystal clear to the leftist-rightist coalition government that progress in reducing arrears is necessary in order to free up a remaining 800-million-euro chunk of a loan tranche that flowed into Greek state coffers last July. Institutional creditors have insisted that the often spendthrift Greek public sector cover its debts before eyeing social spending.
Koutentakis also repeated Athens' assertion of an agreement with creditors over the height of the primary budget surplus (as a percentage of GDP) for the ongoing year, along with "discussions over the way it will be distributed". His statement echoed a non paper issued by the ministry on Monday evening, although no reaction was forthcoming from creditors' representatives in Athens or European sources in Brussels.
The Tsipras government wants to again hand out a "holiday bonus" of up to one billion euros to roughly a million people in December under still undetermined criteria.