Monday, 19 November, 2018

Greek Finance Minister: 'Substantial Agreement' After Bailout Talks

Orlando Vargas | 09 April, 2017, 05:15

Greece is awaiting the latest tranche of an €86 billion ($91.6 billion) bailout from the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone's rescue fund, that it needs for debt repayments in July.

The two sides agreed on further reforms, deemed essential for the debt-stricken country to receive its next loan.

Eurozone President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece would have to lower its pension spending by 1 percent of GDP in 2019, in addition to lowering its tax-free threshold on earnings.

"I welcome the agreement in principle on Greece at the Eurogroup after several months of hard negotiations", EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in Malta after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said the commitments would pass through parliament as soon as possible, although the gamble relies on his Syriza party's razor-thin majority.

Greece has agreed to more reforms: in 2019 the country will have to make cuts to pensions, in 2020 there will be changes to income tax.

The decision also has an impact on the sustainability of the Greek debt, with the International Monetary Fund insisting that it can not stay in the bailout programme if the debt is unsustainable.

"There are things that will not satisfy us, and there are things that satisfy us", he said.

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The latest review has dragged on since the middle of past year because of differences over pension and income tax reforms that some lenders believe Greece must undertake to put its finances on a sustainable footing.

In a statement after Friday's Eurogroup, the Washington-based institution said that there were "good prospects for successfully concluding discussions on outstanding policy issues".

Greece gave in and accepted a tough set of reforms with its eurozone creditors on Friday in hopes of unlocking bailout cash in time to avert a looming debt default.

Greece is on its third bailout from euro zone governments since 2010.

Tsipras' left-led government is pushing for a comprehensive deal that would cover more than just spending cuts and reforms by Greece, but also alleviate the country's debt burden and pave the way for its return to worldwide bond markets later this year.

Dijsselbloem conceded that the failure to agree the release of the next batch of bailout funds had harmed Greece's economic recovery in recent months.

Now demanded cutbacks include new pension cuts, a broadening of the tax base, labor reforms and privatizations.

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