PM tells minister must complete most pending bailout reforms by November


Greece must complete most of the pending reforms agreed with its official creditors by November in order to speed up the conclusion of a key progress review and exit the bailout in time, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told his cabinet on Monday.

Greece’s bailout progress is being reviewed by its lenders on a quarterly basis and the next review is expected to start in October. Tsipras has promised to make the country financially independent by 2018, when its third rescue program expires.

“We must show our determination to wrap up the third review as soon as possible,” Tsipras told ministers. “I would like us to have completed most of the reforms demanded under the third review by November, to avoid giving anyone excuses, at home or abroad.”

Sending a message to lenders, Tsipras said on Monday that Greece does not need more belt-tightening but measures that will help boost growth as it emerge from crisis. Last week, he urged them to act in “good faith” and help Greece meet its goals.

“I believe we all realize, including our lenders, that at stake is the strengthening of growth and not discussing further intensifying fiscal restrictions,” he said.

The 2018 budget, banks’ bad loans, the energy market and privatizations will be among the main issues in the upcoming review. Previous inspections dragged on for months due to disagreements on fiscal issues, labor reforms and debt relief.

The European Central Bank’s mission chief in Greece, Francesco Drudi, said on Sunday that lenders will assess a number of bills adopted by Parliament which may not be in line with program commitments, adding that any backtracking could “complicate” the review.

Tsipras’s term ends in 2019, a year after the 86-billion-euro bailout expires. The leftist leader hopes to win another term but his party is trailing the conservative opposition in polls.

Last week, days after he promised benefits for the vulnerable at the end of the year, more jobs and investments, Eldorado Gold Corp threatened to freeze its Greek projects blaming years-long permit delays. The government has also been struggling for more than a week to contain an oil spill from a sunken tanker which spread to some of Athens's most popular beaches. Opposition parties and activists accused it of delays and a lack of preparation.

Tsipras on Monday said the government should intensify its efforts. He also urged his ministers to speed up work that is not related to bailout reforms in the coming months. [Reuters]