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FinMin, in Brussels, sets sights on troika deal by April

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras was in Brussels on Monday to attend a meeting of eurozone finance ministers without a deal between Athens and the troika that would help unlock bailout funding worth some 9 billion euros.

Following the failure of talks last week between the Greek government and the representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund on key reforms that need to be implemented before any additional funding is approved, Athens now hopes for a deal before an informal Ecofin meeting in April.

The ideal scenario for the government would be to have a staff-level agreement by Sunday and for the funding to be approved within the next two weeks after that.

For this to happen, however, a string of issues need to be settled, starting with an agreement on the capital needs of local lenders.

A Finance Ministry official said on Saturday afternoon that an agreement had been reached.

The results of stress tests presented by the Bank of Greece on Thursday put lenders’ capital needs at 6.4 billion euros but the International Monetary Fund in particular believes that this figure is too low.

However, the Finance Ministry official suggested that the IMF had backed down during talks on Saturday. The government has also pledged to expedite legislation for the recapitalization of the country's banks.

Talks have also stalled over the extent to which the government will implement a series of recommendations made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a "tool kit" of measures to help boost competition such as liberalizing the sale of over-the-counter medicines and extending the shelf life of fresh milk.

Another sticking point is an agreement on the streamlining of the civil service, as well as the issue of minimum salaries in the civil service, which was recently brought to the table by the troika.

ekathimerini.com , Monday March 10, 2014 (09:36)  
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