Gov’t plays down bond profit payment delays

Gov’t plays down bond profit payment delays

Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Houliarakis on Tuesday played down a report saying that Greece risks missing a first tranche of European Central Bank profit returns on Greek bond holdings due to delays in reforms, noting that those delays have already been brought to the authorities’ attention and are to be made public in a European Commission report on Wednesday.

Houliarakis made his comments in response to an article by Reuters which quoted sources as saying that there might be a few months’ delay in the payment of the profits, citing the slow-moving process of privatizations, among other reforms.

“The return of the first 600 million euros from the profits on Greek bonds held by European central banks… will be based on the evaluation of the commitments that our country has undertaken from the end of the program through December 31,” Houliarakis said, indicating that the disbursement might therefore not happen before the end of this year.

According to Greece’s agreement with its international creditors, some 4.8 billion euros of profits from Greek bonds held by the ECB and other eurozone central banks are supposed to be paid back to Athens by June 2022 in tranches.

The first 600-million-euro payment had been expected in December this year.

However, as Kathimerini reported earlier this month, the slow pace of reforms, including the privatizations, the staffing of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue and the reduction of the state’s debts to third parties, was identified by the EC some time ago and is to be mentioned in its enhanced surveillance report which is to be made public on Wednesday.

Meanwhile there was some concern about the markets’ continuing skepticism around Greece on Tuesday as the yield on the Greek 10-year bond reached a six-month high of 4.683 percent, rising 2.52 percent.

Conservative New Democracy criticized the government for talking about its supposed successes amid a spike in bond spreads and a sharp drop on the Athens Stock Exchange with bank stocks suffering large losses.

“The combination of incompetence, arrogance and audacity has cut off the gang in the Maximos Mansion from reality,” ND said. “Soon citizens will bring them back to earth,” it added in an apparent reference to general elections next year.

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