Technical talks to resume with lenders

Greece embarks on a second week of technical discussions with its lenders from Monday with the aim of agreeing on a first batch of reforms but also securing a concession, possibly from the European Central Bank, that would help it overcome its pressing liquidity problems.

There was contact between Greek officials and representatives of the country’s lenders in Athens and Brussels this week. The Greek side was informed by its creditors that they need the latest data on Greece’s public finances in order for discussions to progress. The Greek delegation returned from Brussels to prepare the information, while technocrats sent to Athens by the institutions began receiving paperwork on Friday.

Sources in Brussels told Kathimerini that there was little progress in the discussions that took place in the Belgian capital due to the lack of technical data and because of an apparent insistence on the Greek side on discussing the seven reform proposals that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had submitted before the last Eurogroup.

Athens will be hoping that discussions can advance next week because the government is running short of money. It is hoping for either an early disbursement of some of the 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout loans or an increase in the 15-billion-euro limit on T-bills that the state can issue.

The latter would need the approval of the ECB as Greek banks would likely be the only buyers of the T-bills. At the moment, though, the Frankfurt-based lender does not seem willing to budge on the issue. An ECB official told Kathimerini that Greece’s funding difficulties will only last until August, which means the pressure on the government to carry out reforms must be exercised now.

Speaking at an economic conference in northern Italy, Varoufakis insisted that the government had “made all the necessary provisions to ensure there is no accident” but Greece’s partners would also have to play their part.

“I’ve no doubt the ECB is going to do what it takes… to smooth cash flow problems which are very small in the grander scheme of things,” he said at the gathering in Cernobbio, near Lake Como.

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