German lawmakers vote in favor of releasing next aid tranche, Schaeuble upbeat on Greece

German lawmakers vote in favor of releasing next aid tranche, Schaeuble upbeat on Greece

The German parliament's budget committee on Friday voted in favor of releasing the next tranche of aid to Greece from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) rescue fund, lawmakers said.

The budget committee had no objections to unlocking the 10.3 billion euros ($11.64 billion) in credit, conservative budget expert Eckhardt Rehberg said. The decision was confirmed also by another lawmaker.

Last week Greek lawmakers approved a set of extra measures demanded by international lenders to receive further bailout funds and cheap bank funding from the European Central Bank.

Rehberg said 52 of 56 preconditions had been fulfilled, and the remaining four involved “formalities.”

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a conference hosted by Deutsche Bank later on Friday that Greece had implemented the majority of economic reforms required under the bailout package and was on the way to regaining the confidence of global financial markets.

"Greece has largely implemented the reforms. Greece can begin to stand on its feet again and regain access to the financial markets," he said.

Greece and its international lenders wrapped up the bulk of reforms needed for badly needed bailout cash in May, but left some loose ends which must be tied up before Athens can receive 10.3 billion euros ($11.48 billion) by September.

Eurozone finance ministers could agree to release a first disbursement of 7.5 billion euros next week, top European Commission officials said this week.

Schaeuble told the German newspaper Handelsblatt in an interview published Friday that Greece had already significantly increased its ability to compete on the world market by lowering labor costs by 12 percent.

"But it is still true that Greece must continue to push ahead with further reforms," he told the newspaper.

"Greece must implement reforms to shore up the longer-term stability of its government finances and ensure the repayment of its loans." [Reuters]

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