Greece plans reshuffle after next loan
Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras will reshuffle his cabinet once he secures the next loan tranche to make his government more effective in applying austerity measures prescribed by lenders, government officials said.
Mr Samaras will hold separate meetings with his two coalition partners, Socialist Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis, later today to discuss the new cabinet, the officials said.
"The reshuffle will take place after the instalment," said one government official on condition of anonymity. "The finance minister will not be moved."
Euro zone finance ministers meet tomorrow to unlock more aid for Greece and avert bankruptcy but hopes for a quick disbursement of more than €30 billion remain dim as the EU and International Monetary Fund lenders squabble over how to resolve the country's debt crisis.
Meanwhile, Greece today approved laws to enforce budget targets and ensure privatisation proceeds are used to pay off debt.
Athens said the decrees - in addition to an austerity package passed earlier this month - completed its obligations to lenders before tomorrow's eurogroup meeting, which it hopes will unlock more aid to stave off bankruptcy.
"We have delivered, fulfilling the final pledges we made," Greek government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.
The government decrees - which go into force immediately and do not require parliamentary approval - stipulate proceeds from privatisation go into a special escrow account and impose automatic cuts on public sector units that miss budget targets.
European paymaster Germany, which has long been sceptical of Greece's commitment to reform, had pushed for the measures, according to sources close to the matter.
After lengthy talks with Mr Samaras yesterday, finance minister Yannis Stournaras said Greece was "fully ready" for the eurogroup session.
Asked about Greek declarations that the government has completed the major steps required of them at this stage, a senior euro zone official said: "They have done so, and two small items remain to be done before disbursement."
Still, prospects for a swift disbursement of more than €30 billion in bailout aid remain cloudy as Greece's euro zone and International Monetary Fund lenders squabble over how to resolve the country's debt crisis.
IMF officials have said some writedown of Greek debt held by euro zone governments is inevitable, but Germany has rejected the idea of taking a loss on bond holdings.