Athens given two weeks to deliver new cuts and taxes


GREECE:EURO ZONE finance ministers imposed a two-week deadline on Greece to deliver a key series of cutbacks and new taxes to ensure delivery of a crucial €8 billion bailout loan.

The ministers also said they wanted to congratulate Ireland and Portugal on their efforts in their bailout programmes.

Ahead of talks in Athens with top officials from the EU-IMF troika, the ministers called on the Greek government to fully implement the recovery plan set out in its bailout.

“We will decide on the disbursement of the next tranche of the programme for Greece in October,” said Luxembourg’s prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the euro group ministers.

His remarks came as the Greek minister Evangelos Venizelos pledged Athens would meet its obligations.

“The intention is to meet the fiscal targets for this year and next year without delay, without exception and deviations.”

The ministers will review Greece’s progress at their next meeting on Monday fortnight, which takes place in Luxembourg, with a view to releasing the money.

However, little progress was reported in talks on Finland’s push for collateral from Greece to cover any loss Helsinki incurs on its guarantees to the Greek rescue.

This has led to copycat claims for collateral from the Netherlands and Austria. According to Mr Juncker, ministers agreed that any collateral should be provided only at “an appropriate price”.

Athens has warned it will run out of cash next month if it does not receive its next loan but it has been repeatedly told that it will not get the money if it fails to fulfil promises to bring its public finances under control.

Mr Juncker said the ministers agreed with the troika’s most recent positive review of the Irish bailout.

“We agreed with the troika assessment that the Irish and Portuguese economic adjustment programmes are well on track. We congratulated Ireland and Portugal for the progress made in areas of fiscal consolidation, financial sector reform and structural reform.”

Officials from the EU, the IMF and the ECB have said they would delay a visit to Greece next week.

The troika, was expected to return to Athens on Monday after cutting short an inspection visit earlier this month. – (Reuters)