BUSINESS

Gov’t urged to speed up reforms

ELENI VARVITSIOTIS

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem

TAGS: Finance

“Complete the milestones as soon as possible,” was the clear message sent by eurozone finance ministers to their Greek counterpart Euclid Tsakalotos at Friday’s Eurogroup meeting in the Slovak capital.

There is still work to be done for the fulfillment of the prior actions, said European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, adding that while there has been some progress, “we would have liked to see some more.”

“So we took stock of [the pending milestones] and heard a little about the issues at stake. There was a general feeling that we must not lose time – the time scale that was drawn up and agreed in May 2016,” said Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, highlighting the importance of the next few weeks.

Tsakalotos assured his peers that all prior actions will be completed by end-September so that the second bailout review can begin swiftly, along with the debate on lightening Greece’s debt. It is particularly important for the Greek side to see that debate proceed so that the medium-term measures making the debt sustainable are agreed, which a government source said must be done by the end of the year.

The subtranche of 2.8 billion euros will be disbursed upon completion of the first review, including over 1 billion euros to be used for the repayment of state debts to the market.

The speedy completion of the remaining milestones “would strengthen confidence in the Greek economy,” European Central Bank governing council member Benoit Coeure said. He called particularly for the completion on actions on energy and privatizations, noting that the reduction of the emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) to banks by the Bank of Greece shows that Greek lenders’ access to funding is gradually being restored.

In regard to the debt, Dijsselbloem said that no detailed discussions had taken place, and set out the timetable leading up to a decision regarding the involvement of the International Monetary Fund, which he said was “particularly cooperative now.”

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