Greece’s lenders skeptical on new bills but focus on funding needs

European officials have expressed concern that the Greek government has not consulted with its partners over its plans to bring new legislation to Parliament this week but the greatest focus appears to be on how Athens will cover its immediate funding needs.

“We have not discussed anything with the Greek side,” a European official told Sunday’s Kathimerini after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced on Friday night that four bills would be tabled in the House this week.

In a televised address to his cabinet, Tsipras said that four draft laws would be unveiled this week in order to tackle the social impact of the crisis, to introduce a new payment scheme for overdue debts to the state, to protect primary residences from foreclosures and to reopen public broadcaster ERT.

At the Eurogroup on February 20, Greece and its lenders agreed that the government would not adopt any measures unilaterally that “would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability, as assessed by the institutions.”

It is not clear if Greece’s creditors believe that the bills due to be submitted to Parliament this week fall into this category but sources suggested that there is concern about the lack of of communication between Athens and its partners.

However, the immediate problem that must be overcome is ensuring that the government can meet its funding needs over the next few months, starting with a 1.6-billion-euro payment to the International Monetary Fund in March. On Saturday, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis went as far saying that Athens would try to negotiate the summer payment of 6.7 billion euros’ worth of Greek bonds held by the European Central Bank.

“Shouldn’t we negotiate this? We will fight it,” he told Skai TV. “If we had the money we would pay… They know we don’t have it.”

Greece’s lenders, however, believe that they may be able to use this inability to pay to their advantage and pressure the government to carry out reforms before the country’s funding needs become less significant.

“Now is the time that we can exercise pressure on the Greek government,” a European official told Kathimerini.

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