NEWS

Glitch in bailout talks fuels fears of delay in loan disbursement

TAGS: Politics, Economy

There was fresh concern on Monday that there could be further delays in the disbursement of much-need bailout money to Greece owing to a disagreement between Athens and its creditors, who have demanded changes to prior actions passed in Parliament earlier this month.

European Union officials on Monday appeared to dismiss Greece’s refusal to implement some of these changes, saying that these are issues that have already been agreed with the Greek government.

The country’s lenders had given the green light for the disbursement of a tranche of 10.3 billion euros last week, on the condition the government made amendments to recent legislation it passed on pension, bad loans and privatizations.

However, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos had informed the European Commission representative and the International Monetary Fund in a letter last week that their demands could not be met, neither could Athens fulfill the demands enshrined in the bailout deal signed last summer to privatize ADMIE, the country’s grid operator, and to freeze the wages of essential services, like those of the coast guard and police.

Greece desperately needs the new bailout money to pay state arrears as well as debt repayments to the IMF and European Central Bank in the coming weeks.

There were reports on Monday that the government is planning to submit its own amendments on Wednesday to Parliament. If the disagreement between Greece and its creditors persists, then it is likely it will be discussed at the Euro Working Group on Thursday.

In comments on Monday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble described the decision to raise value-added tax in Greece as “economic foolishness” but noted that Athens was obliged to take that route due to a revenue shortfall.

“This is why Greece needs an effective public administration,” Schaeuble told a conference on fiscal sustainability, observing that Greek tax collection must be improved to bring in the higher revenues that are being targeted.

Separately on Monday, the leader of the main conservative opposition New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Strasbourg, on the sidelines of events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the European People’s Party’s foundation.

According to sources, Mitsotakis explained to Merkel his plan for achieving a 2 percent primary surplus for Greece with 4 percent growth in 2018, putting more emphasis on cutting spending and less on increasing taxes.

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