Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Houliarakis.
The eurozone has given Athens a Wednesday deadline to complete the 50 remaining milestones for the third bailout review, after which Athens expects to receive a tranche of 4.5 billion euros, lowering earlier expectations of up to 7.5 billion euros.
The Euro Working Group of eurozone finance ministry officials told Greek representative Giorgos Houliarakis on Thursday that the government has less than a week to finish off the prior actions required for the review to be completed in time for the January 22 Eurogroup meeting.
The EWG members had at hand the 600 translated pages of the multi-bill currently being debated in the Greek Parliament, but had not had time to assess the contents. Therefore the council of ministry officials will hold a conference call next Friday, January 19, to ratify the necessary compliance report that will pave the way for the Eurogroup to approve the disbursement of the installment due.
On Thursday the government reduced expectations about the amount of the tranche anticipated after the review is completed, without any reference to the so-called “cash buffer” which apparently remains an issue on the negotiating table with the country’s creditors.
In an informal press update the ministry said the tranche expected “amounts to around 4.5 billion euros.” It added that “the amount of the installment depends on the cash needs of the country for the February-June period that come to 3 billion euros. Another 1.5 billion euros will come on top of that, concerning overdue debts.” There was no mention of any cash to be used as a safety cushion for the period after the bailout program has expired.
Thursday’s estimate is also considerably lower than that the government itself had made in the 2018 budget, when it had seen the disbursement of 5.5 billion euros after the third review.
On the fringes of the EWG meeting, a eurozone source said oin Thursday that the tranche will amount to 7 billion euros, adding that the precise amount will depend on whether or not the cash buffer is included.