Samaras eyes liquidity boost from next tranche

If Greece?s lenders release the 31.5-billion euro tranche of the country?s bailout in October, it would improve conditions in Greece?s liquidity-starved market, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Saturday at the opening of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

Samaras decided against delivering the premier?s customary keynote economic policy speech at the TIF, where thousands of anti-austerity protesters had gathered amid tight security.

Instead, the prime minister gave a brief statement inaugurating the fair. ?This year is different; we are at the most crucial point,? he said, adding that Greece had been ?very close to leaving the eurozone.?

Samaras made a brief reference to the 11.5 billion euros in spending cuts that he is due to discuss with representatives of the country’s foreign lenders on Monday. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is scheduled to meet the inspectors at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The prime minister hopes to convince creditors that the latest cuts are proof of his government?s commitment to working with the troika, as the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund are known.

The government?s aim is for an agreement on the cuts — which the troika has yet to approve — to be the first step toward addressing Greece?s dire economic situation. Athens hopes that by the Eurogroup meeting on October 8, or the European Union leaders? summit on October 18, its partners will have agreed to the release of the next tranche of funding and to a possible extension to the fiscal adjustment period, by one or two years.

?As soon as we get the next installment, there will be liquidity,? said Samaras. Apart from the completion of Greece?s bank recapitalization program, the government wants to use part of the 31.5 billion euros to settle some of its arrears, which have built up to some 7 billion euros.

Samaras is due to meet European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Tuesday to discuss the Greek government?s aims and the ECB?s position.

However, the prime minister will first have to meet with his coalition partners. He is due to hold talks with PASOK?s Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left?s Fotis Kouvelis on Sunday evening, shortly after concluding his meeting with troika representatives.

There is some unease within the three-party coalition about the latest austerity package. Democratic Left has proposed several alternative measures to produce savings of 4 billion euros, some of which would come from a further reduction in the military budget.

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