Greece crisis: Noonan's 'concern' over cash squeeze
Greece said today it had met a deadline to repay €750m cash owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today but Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he is concerned about the country's access to cash.
Eurozone finance ministers yesterday issued a short statement on Greece following their monthly meeting in Brussels, welcoming progress made so far on reform talks but warned there was some distance to go.
Ahead of yesterday's meeting, Mr Noonan said progress had been made and that the country had until the end of June to make reforms.
But he added: "There is some disappointment that progress isn't being made more rapidly.
The difficulty now is that people are getting concerned, including myself, about the liquidity situation in Greece and I hope that can be resolved with payments coming up so soon."
With Greece fast running out of money and desperate for a deal to avert default, Athens confirmed that it would make a scheduled €750m repayment to the IMF by today's deadline.
But even with the positive statement from the so-called Eurogroup, it looked as if it wouldn't be enough to allow Greece some short-term liquidity relief.
There was too little progress for the European Central Bank (ECB) to allow the Greek government boost its finances by selling more short-term Treasury bills, Reuters reported citing sources close to the Bank.
Elected in January on promises to end austerity and scrap the international bailout, the Syriza-led government hasn't reached agreement on a number of issues, including pension and labour reforms. The Eurozone ministers spent less than an hour yesterday hearing a progress report on the slow-moving negotiations with representatives of the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis held private talks with German counterpart Wolfgang Schauble before the Eurogroup meeting but neither side commented on the meeting.
However, Mr Schauble said it could be helpful for the Greek government to hold a referendum on a cash for reform deal - a move which when mooted in the past was rejected by Germany amid claims there wasn't time for such a vote.
"If the Greek government thinks it must hold a referendum, then let it hold a referendum," Mr Schauble said. "That might even be a helpful measure for the Greek people to decide whether it is ready to accept what is necessary, or whether it wants something different."
Eurozone ministers also discussed the latest post-programme surveillance mission to Ireland, which warned that Ireland should do more to narrow the deficit.
Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and European Stability Mechanism chief Klaus Regling all praised Ireland.
Mr Moscovici said he would be in Dublin on May 26 for "an exchange of views in the Irish parliament on the country's economic policy priorities and the 2014 country specific recommendations". The legacy of the crisis continues to be felt, he said.