Greece’s creditors to hold conference call to discuss merits of gov’t proposal

BRUSSELS — Greece’s creditors in the 19-country eurozone will hold a teleconference Tuesday to give their verdict on a list of reform measures Athens has sent in order to get a four-month extension to its bailout, which would keep the country afloat and prevent a potential exit from the euro.

The reform plans, which involve measures to deal with tax evasion and corruption and were sent ahead of Monday’s deadline, appear to be meeting with a favorable response both within policy-making circles and in the markets.

An official at the European Commission, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said the Greek list “is sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point.”

The official said the Commission was “notably encouraged by the strong commitment to combat tax evasion and corruption” and that the arrival of the list was “preceded by constructive exchanges over the weekend between the Greek authorities and representatives of the Commission and the other institutions.”

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the so-called Eurogroup, confirmed that the teleconference would take place this afternoon. Earlier he had indicated that one would only take place if an initial assessment from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund was positive.

The prevailing view in markets is that the Eurogroup will sign off on the reform plans and extend Greece’s bailout until the end of June, a move that will allow the country to meet its financial obligations over the coming few months. The main stock market in Athens was up 7 percent in lunchtime trading.

Caught between its campaign pledges and pressure from creditors, Greece’s left-wing SYRIZA government delivered the list on the cusp of Monday night’s deadline. The government was asked to present a list last Friday at a meeting of the 19 finance ministers of the eurozone so its bailout request could be met.

Dijsselbloem hoped that developments Tuesday will “contribute to restoring trust between all parties and help to get the recovery in Greece back on track.”

“It’s crucial to stabilize the situation in Greece, allowing us time to work on future cooperation with Greece and bridging this period,” Dijsselbloem told EU legislators.

Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said that the list of reforms was based on the governing SYRIZA party’s campaign pledge to address the “humanitarian crisis.” Reforms are to focus on curbing tax evasion, corruption, smuggling and excessive bureaucracy while also addressing poverty caused by a six-year recession.

“We have moved ahead with what we promised before the elections and after the elections. This is not a speed race but a distance race,” said Sakellaridis.

A SYRIZA official in Brussels said that “immediate priority” would be given to the settling of overdue debts, the protection of people with mortgage arrears as well as the ending of foreclosures of first residencies.

[The Associated Press]