Eurogroup gives Greece conditional OK for new bailout

Brussels — Eurozone finance ministers agreed on Thursday that Greece had met almost all the requirements demanded by creditors to qualify for a new 130-billion-euro bailout but added that only funding needed to secure a debt restructuring scheme would be released for now.

Meeting in Brussels ahead of a European Union leaders? summit, the Eurogroup appeared satisfied by the raft of legislation approved by the Greek Cabinet and Parliament in the last few days.

?Ministers note with satisfaction that Greece thereby took swift and decisive action in the areas of fiscal consolidation, revenue administration, pension reform, financial sector regulation and supervision and growth-enhancing structural reforms,? said the head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, in a statement after the ministers? meeting.

However, he added that the troika would confirm in the next few days that all the ?prior actions? demanded of Greece had been transposed into legislation.

Juncker said that the ministers had cleared the way for the eurozone?s crisis fund, or EFSF, to be used to issue 30 billion euros’ worth of bonds that would be used as sweeteners for private investors taking part in the debt restructuring deal, or PSI.

He added that the EFSF would also step in to guarantee Greek bonds so they could be used by Greek banks to obtain liquidity from the European Central Bank in a form of bridging facility.

But the Luxembourg PM said that no more funding for Greece would be released until the PSI is completed successfully. Greece is set to announce the result of its offer to bondholders on March 9.

?The Eurogroup, however, reiterates that a successful PSI operation with high participation and a final positive assessment of the complete set of prior actions are necessary conditions both for the disbursement of these EFSF bonds and for the second program.?

It is expected that finance ministers will speak next week to decide upon granting the final approval for the Greek bailout.

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