EU-IMF give Greece 10 days to 'implement' reforms
LUXEMBOURG – Greece's international creditors on Monday gave Athens an October 18 deadline, date of the next European Union summit, to "implement" reforms in exchange for fresh financial assistance.
"We stressed that before the next disbursement Greece clearly and credibly should demonstrate its commitment to fully implement the programme – and 89 prior actions from March should be implemented by the 18th of October at the latest," Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said at the close of talks with finance ministers from the 17-nation single currency area.
The scores of "prior actions" involve major privatisations and a wholeswathe of reforms to labour markets or bureaucratic red-tape.
Juncker said that after being debriefed by the Troika of international lenders – the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank – "we were pleased to hear substantial progress has been made on Greece, specially in the last days."
But before the next disbursement of 31.5 billion euros (US$40.6 billion) from a 130-billion second package of loans for Greece, talks between Greece and the troika must be finalised, he stressed.
"On Greece more work needs to be done," added IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.
"Acting means acting, not just speaking," she said at a press conference.
A day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel lands in Athens, Lagarde, whose IMF inspectors are considered the hardest-line figures in the Troika, said "the list of prior actions has to be implemented."
Payment of the tranche has been blocked since June by Greece's creditors in hopes of seeing action on a host of reforms, from privatisations to changes to labour law.
"From the initial list a lot has already been done," said Lagarde. "But the list of prior actions has to be implemented."
EU officials last week said Athens was unlikely even at next week's EU summit to get a green light to resume talks following differences with its international creditors.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Friday that his country could not take more bitter medicine. If its next aid instalment of 31.5 billion euros did not arrive soon, by November state coffers would be empty, he said.
Merkel is due in Greece on Tuesday, to what could be a hostile reception from those who see her as responsible for their problems. -- AFP