Thursday 22 February 2018

Rival plans produced for Greece survival

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: Bloomberg
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: Bloomberg
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Greece yesterday sent a reform plan to its lenders yesterday in the hope that it will be sufficient to release much needed bailout cash, as the deadline looms for a payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The country's creditors were simultaneously working on their own draft agreement but were beaten to the mark by Athens reportedly keen to ensure they were first out of the traps with a proposal.

The country faces a €300m payment to the IMF on Friday, the first of four this month totalling around €1.6bn.

Greece is starved of cash and months of talks to secure an agreement that would see much needed bailout cash unlocked has proved fruitless.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said yesterday that his government had provided a "realistic plan" to creditors.

"A realistic plan, whose acceptance by the institutions, our lenders and our partners in Europe will mark the end of the scenario of divisions in Europe," Mr Tsipras told reporters.

"It is now clear that the decision on whether they want to adjust to realism ... the decision rests with the political leadership of Europe."

A source, however, confirmed to Reuters that the lenders were also finalising their own offer to Athens.

A European Commission spokeswoman said many documents were being exchanged among negotiators, which was "already a good sign".

Talks with Greece were continuing and "we are not there yet", she said.

It was not immediately known whether the document sent by Athens, which some EU officials said they had not yet seen, gave any ground on the main outstanding issues of pension and labour market reform, fiscal targets and the size of the civil service that have dogged four months of tough negotiations.

Sources close to the negotiations said there were no major concessions on the deal-breaking issues in the Greek paper.

Failure to reach agreement this month could trigger a Greek default and lead to the imposition of capital controls and a potential exit from the Eurozone, dealing a blow to Europe's supposedly irreversible single currency.

A Greek government official said Athens would make a €300m repayment to the IMF on time on Friday if there was an agreement with the creditors, hinting it might otherwise withhold the money without saying so explicitly.

(Additional reporting Reuters)

Timeline: Four weeks to make or break Greece

Today - European Central Bank Governing Council monetary policy meeting in Frankfurt.

Friday - Greece must make a payment to the IMF of roughly €305m

June 12 - Greece must make a payment to the IMF of roughly €344m June 16 - Greece must make a payment to the IMF of roughly €573m

June 17 - Non-monetary policy meeting of the ECB Governing Council. June 18 - Meeting of Eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg.

June 19 - Greece must make a payment to the IMF of about €344m.

June 25/26 - EU leaders gather in Brussels for a summit.

June 30 - Expiry of extended bailout agreement between the Eurozone and Greece, which means the end of access to the funds left over from the Eurozone bailout. From then on, to get any money from the Eurozone, Greece would have to negotiate a new bailout agreement from scratch.

Irish Independent

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