ECONOMY

Venizelos seeks new bailout by end August

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday that he hoped the European Union would conclude talks on a second bailout for Greece by the end of August, adding that reforms would be accelerated to secure the next tranche of rescue funding, due in September.

?We are ready to enter a new program,? Venizelos said, adding that he wanted ?full coverage, not just for the country?s fiscal requirements but for the stability of Greece?s financial and banking system.? He added that the program should be completed by the end of August, before the scheduled release of the sixth tranche of last year?s 110-billion-euro bailout, reiterating that the Greek crisis is a broader European problem.

?Everyone knows that Greece is not the problem. Greece is an excuse for an attack on the euro,? Venizelos told a press conference in Athens on his return from a Eurogroup summit in Brussels.

As for the government?s privatization drive, which aims to raise 50 billion euros by 2015, Venizelos stressed that it was on target.

Meanwhile government spokesman Ilias Mossialos rebuffed questions about possible delays to planned selloffs sparked by comments by Deputy Finance Minister, Pantelis Economou. Mossialos stressed that, ?the laws have been approved and will be implemented in full,? referring to reforms voted through Parliament last month. During a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Economou was widely criticized for his suggestions that Greece was unable to meet privatization targets and that planned increases to value added tax should be reconsidered.