EU keeps Greece waiting for loan

Tranche will not be approved at Monday?s Eurogroup but likely end of the month, officials say

Greece is hoping that a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on November 19, or talks between European Union leaders three days later, will lead to officials agreeing to disburse the next bailout tranche of 31.5 billion euros.

Sources told Kathimerini that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras?s aides see these two meetings as the two most likely dates when Greece will finally get the nod from its lenders after several European officials made it clear yesterday that there would be no decision on the disbursement of the loan installment at Monday?s Eurogroup meeting.

Following a stormy vote in Parliament late on Wednesday on the latest austerity and reform package, which the government won with just 153 of 300 votes, attention quickly shifted to the stance of Greece?s lenders and the prospects for receiving the next bailout tranche.

?I don?t see how we would get to a decision next week,? said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. ?Not all is lost, but not all is won.?

A number of other European officials spoke to media outlets anonymously to confirm that Greece should not expect a decision on the loan installment at Monday?s Eurogroup.

The European side seems some distance from the International Monetary Fund in terms of their assessment of Greek debt sustainability. According to the Financial Times, the IMF wants Greek debt to be at 120 percent of GDP in 2020, whereas the European Commission is proposing this figure should be changed to 125 percent of GDP in 2022.

Among the measures being discussed to reduce public debt are extending maturities and reducing the interest rate on its bilateral loans from 150 basis points to 80 points above interbank rates, and giving Greece the profits earned by the European Central Bank on some 50 billion euros? worth of Greek bonds that it holds.

Yesterday ECB President Mario Draghi again ruled out the possibility of the lender accepting a haircut on the Greek bonds it holds. ?The ECB is by and large done,? he said in reference to Greece. However, he added that any profits from the purchase of Greek bonds would be passed to national central banks and eurozone governments could then decide what to do with the money.

?It?s up to the governments to decide whether they want to use these profits for Greece,? he said.