NEWS

Eurozone approves loan

Less than 24 hours after Greece secured a further 8 billion euros in loans from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is expected to issue a stern warning to his Cabinet Wednesday amid concern that bickering between ministers is holding up the implementation of reforms.

Papademos is due to hold the meeting in the wake of eurozone finance ministers deciding in Brussels Tuesday to release the sixth installment for Greece, which needed the money by mid-December so it could continue paying its bills.

However, the mood in the cabinet meeting is unlikely to be celebratory. Sources said that Papademos has expressed concern about the disagreements between ministers and what impact this might have on his government?s attempts to meet the targets set by Greece?s lenders.

Sources added that Papademos is less concerned about squabbling between cabinet members from the three parties taking part in the interim government than between ministers from PASOK. The prime minister appears to fear that with the leadership contest in the Socialist party hotting up, rivals may be trying to trip each other up.

Papademos will look to set the agenda for the next few weeks, including the implementation of the so-called ?multi-bill? passed through Parliament recently. Until Wednesday, the interim prime minister?s primary target had been to secure the latest loan tranche.

This was settled when eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels and agreed to release the 5.8 billion euros that their countries are providing to the 8-billion-euro tranche. ?We have the necessary political consensus, we have the necessary national unity and the national commitment and determination to go ahead,? Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said ahead of the meeting.

The ministers also discussed increasing the firepower of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) as the eurozone?s debt crisis spreads, forcing Italy to offer a record yield of 7.89 percent to sell three-year bonds — more than Greece, Ireland and Portugal when they applied for EU-IMF bailouts.

Discussions focused on how to get the IMF and the European Central Bank involved in the rescue fund, possibly through the ECB making loans to the Washington-based fund so it could provide troubled countries with loans.