Sunday 11 December 2016

Leaders may stall the next tranche of euro aid for Greece

Ian Wishart, Jonathan Stearns and Corina Ruhe

Published 11/10/2016 | 02:30

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

The euro area may delay approval of a €2.8bn aid payout to Greece as it readies the next review of the country's bailout that could determine the International Monetary Fund's involvement in the programme and Alexis Tsipras's viability as prime minister.

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The bloc's finance ministers, met yesterday in Luxembourg, and may yet say it's not yet possible to confirm that conditions for €1.7bn of the latest payment have been met, a European Union official said on condition of anonymity.

This amount is tied to evidence that a previous sum of that size has been used by the Greek government to clear arrears.

The payout "depends on whether Greece has fulfilled all of its commitments," Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is chairing the meeting, told reporters. "I'm hearing optimistic news but I want to hear it directly from the institutions" that monitor the fulfillment of conditions.

Greece, which is in its third bailout since 2010, is struggling to right its economy, which has contracted in eight of the last nine years.

A second review of the country's rescue programme will pave the way for a possible restructuring of Greece's debt, which the IMF says is a necessary condition for its future involvement.

Mr Tsipras has made debt relief a basic demand since coming to power in January 2015.

Greece should receive the whole €2.8bn sum by the end-of-October expiry date once euro-area experts are in a position to declare all the requirements are fulfilled, according to the official, who says another meeting of finance chiefs won't be needed for the disbursal to take place.

At its annual meetings in Washington last week, the IMF said it had "significant concerns" about uncompleted reforms in Greece, including to pensions and the welfare state.

While the IMF is participating in monitoring the current €86bn bailout, it has not yet agreed to any financial contribution.

Irish Independent

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