Greece is back on EU agenda as third bailout deadline looms

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http://maltawinds.com/2018/04/30/greece-is-back-on-eu-agenda-as-third-bailout-deadline-looms/

Greece is back on the European agenda as the country rushes to end its third bailout program in August.

The Greek finance chief is due to present Friday new measures for the country, once its emergency assistance program ends. The idea is to convince creditors and the markets that the country will continue with reforms even if it’s no longer relying on bailout funds.

Klaus Regling, who oversees the European emergency bailout fund (ESM), said he had seen earlier versions of the Greek bailout plan, but it lacked ambition.
“I think (Greece) should be a bit more ambitious in some areas,” Regling said, citing privatisations as an example.

Though Greece has a lot of work to do in the next four months, presenting a long-term strategy is seen as being just as important.

“For me it’s much more critical we get a long-term perspective. It’s indeed important to continue with reforms, not to backslide on what has been achieved so far, which is quite a bit and that includes privatizations … Reform(ing) the public administration, the legal system Building on what has been achieved so far,” he said.

While European politicians have praised the work that Greece has done since 2015, they are still reluctant in giving the country substantial debt relief. The issue has always been controversial mainly for countries like Germany and the Netherlands. Creditors want solid guarantees that Greece will not deviate from the reform path seen up until now in order to make its debt more sustainable.

Greece’s public debt ratio is about 180 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) still believes that such a ratio is way too big for Greece and will only disburse money to the country once there’s a clear plan for the future of this Greek debt.
Pierre Moscovici, European commissioner for economic affairs, told American network CNBC’s Willem Marx Friday that the key to bring the IMF on board is to agree on a mechanism that links the growth rates in Greece to how much interest Athens pays back in that year on its loans.

The idea put forward by the French a couple of months ago basically means that if Greece grows at a slower rate than what’s in the creditors’ projections, then Greece will pay lower interest in that year. The sticking point seems to be that creditors themselves (both European and the IMF) cannot agree on those growth projections. As a result, the IMF has not joined the program.

The IMF said last year that it would provide Greece with 1.6 billion euros ($1.93 billion) in funding.

“Time is running out,” for the IMF to disburse that money before the end of the program in August, Regling said.