ECONOMY

No plan to block Greek tranche

Austrian Finance Minister Josef Proell said yesterday that Vienna has no plans to block the next tranche of aid to Athens from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, while Greece’s Finance Ministry stressed that it will receive the EU’s contribution of the money in January. In an interview with Kathimerini, Proell said that his comments were misunderstood on Tuesday and that Austria needs to see Greece’s recently revised budget data before approving payment of the funds in December. «We will not block the aid to Greece,» he said. The Athens stock market fell and the Greek-German yield spread on the 10-year bond widened on Tuesday after press reports cited Proell as saying that Austria may stop money from going to Athens due to the Greek government missing its 2010 tax revenue goal. Austria later played down its remarks but not global press reports which circulated rumors about clashes between the two countries and Greece running out of money in the next two weeks. Greek government officials said yesterday that there was no cause for concern about the delay which had arisen due to technical reasons. Proell admitted that Greece has made progress in taming its budget deficit but added that the country needs to stick to its goals as outlined in the memorandum agreement it signed in May. «Greece is in a very difficult position but we have clear obligations set out in the memorandum and Greece must meet its commitments,» he said. Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry said yesterday that it will receive the European portion of the 9-billion-euro third payment from the European Union-led bailout in early January. «There is absolutely no concern as to the time of the disbursement,» stated the Finance Ministry. Euro-region countries are expected to approve the release of their 6.5-billion-euro portion at a meeting of finance ministers in December and the process will be completed in January, which «poses no cash problem» for Greece, the ministry said.