The sum of earnings from Greek bonds held by eurozone central banks that the Eurogroup intends to return to Athens comes to just under 1 billion euros and will be disbursed only if the government moves picks up the pace to implement the 16 prior actions required for a favorable compliance report on February 27.
The sum is higher than originally estimated, but the significance of the eurozone finance ministers’ decision on March 11 lies mostly on the message the Eurogroup will send about Greece’s post-program performance and its adherence to commitments.
As last Thursday’s Euro Working Group showed, the creditors are not at all happy with Athens’s progress in completing the 16 pending prior actions or with other post-program decisions, top among which are the increase of the minimum salary and the extension of the value-added tax discount for the five islands most hurt by the migrant crisis.
“This is not a matter of money, the amount is small,” a European source said, commenting on the extension of the five islands’ VAT status. “The problem is that the government had pledged not to do this and it went ahead and did. This is a sign about the continuation of implementation of its commitments,” he added.
The same source reminds that German MPs had blocked the last bailout tranche last summer due to the VAT status move by Athens.