MPs approve fresh prior actions but ECB says more needed

MPs approve fresh prior actions but ECB says more needed

Coalition MPs on Thursday approved additional measures demanded by the country’s creditors in exchange for rescue loans and access to cheap funding from the European Central Bank but a few loose ends remain to be tied up before the lenders can sign off on bailout funding.

All lawmakers of leftist SYRIZA and right-wing Independent Greeks supported the legislative amendments, which included the phasing out of a benefit for pensioners on low incomes from this month, the framework for the privatization of the power grid operator, ADMIE, and the lifting of restrictions on selling nonperforming loans guaranteed by the state.

On the last measure in particular, government opposition had been strong but the creditors eventually got their way.

A few small technical details remain to be pushed into law over the next few days so that creditor representatives can prepare a so-called compliance report by Monday and auditors can finally give the green light for the disbursement of 7.5 billion euros in rescue loans.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi made it clear on Thursday that Greece must make good on all prior actions for creditors to sign off on a review, and for the country to regain access to cheap ECB funding rather than the more expensive emergency liquidity it is currently tapping.

“Once the prior actions are implemented, the Governing Council will take a decision leading to the reinstatement of the waiver,” Draghi said, referring to a waiver to the rule preventing Greek banks from tapping cheap liquidity from the ECB.

In a televised address to his cabinet in Athens, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras played down the development. “Possibly at the next meeting of the ECB we could see a lifting of the waiver,” he said, referring to a summit expected to take place on June 22.

In his speech to his cabinet, Tsipras defended the outcome of his ministers’ negotiations and claimed that a return to growth is in sight.

Tsipras is to meet on Friday with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has told Kathimerini that France is interested in investing in Greece and helping it improve its public administration.

The creditors are keen for the disbursement to Athens to be made before June 23, when Britons are set to vote in a referendum on EU membership.

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