Greece meets almost all conditions to unlock aid but payment delayed
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    Greece meets almost all conditions to unlock aid but payment delayed

    Euclid Tsakalotos, Greek Minister for Finance (to the left) and Mário Centeno, President of the Eurogroup

    The Eurogroup was informed yesterday of the progress achieved by Greece in meeting the conditions to unlock financial assistance under the economic adjustment programme. Their fulfilment is a precondition for the disbursement of the next tranche of € 6.7 billion from the European Stability Mechanism. “On Greece, excellent news,” said Eurogroup President Mário Centeno at a press conference yesterday evening in Brussels.

    “The institutions reported that Greece has acted on all prior actions. It has been a tremendous effort by the Greek government, who is showing strong ownership of the programme. Of all 110 prior actions, only 2 are still outstanding, which are outside the control of the government. I’m confident that they can be cleared soon by the institutions.”

    The two remaining prior actions relate to electronic foreclosures (e-auctions) and the privatization of the plot of Athens’s former airport at Elliniko.

    European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, said that “In six months to the day, the program of financial assistance to Greece will end. We must do everything to make a successful conclusion of the program this summer.”

    Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), explained that once Greece has completed all prior actions, national procedures can be launched. This includes approval in a number of parliaments.

    After that the ESM Board of Directors, composed of the euro area deputy finance ministers, will have to approve the Financial Facility Agreement in order to start disbursements.

    There will be a first sub-tranche of €5.7 billion: €3.3 billion for external debt payment, €1.9 billion to help Greece to build up a cash buffer and €1.5 billion for arrears clearance. After that there is another disbursement of €1 billion planned for the purpose of arrears clearance.

    “Given where we are now, I don’t anticipate that the ESM will be able to disburse this first sub-tranche before the second half of March, provided that the conditions are in place,” he said.

    Oscar Scheider
    The Brussels Times