A glimmer of hope for the embattled Tsipras government that creditors will acquiesce to a postponement, or even suspension, of scheduled pension cuts as of Jan. 1, 2018, emerged this week, with a European Commission official in Brussels saying the issue will be discussed during the first visit of auditors to Athens in the post-bailout period.
The same unnamed official said the visit, scheduled for next week, will focus on the draft 2019 budget, where the issue will be on the agenda of talks.
The possibility of avoiding the latest austerity measure, agreed to within the framework of the recently concluded third bailout, depends on fiscal data presented by the Greek side, the official told reporters.
Based on a current time-table, the arrival of creditors' top auditors - including representatives of the IMF - will come some 20 days before the tabling of the 2019 draft budget in Parliament.
Creditors want to see what the Greek side has to say, while also reviewing the overall situation of Greece's social security sector and an evaluation of all structural reforms agreed to over the 2015-16 period. The official also said creditors will need confirmation by Athens that all fiscal targets are on course to be fulfilled.
The Tsipras government desperately wants to avoid the latest austerity measure, given that 2019 is an election year and the current coalition is foundering in the opinion polls.