Greece urges creditors to strike new debt relief deal 

Greece has urged its creditors to agree to a new debt relief deal in talks that could pave the way for the release of vital rescue funds for the stricken nation.

Greece’s international creditors will meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss an agreement to ease the country’s debt burden, a day after the Greek finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, said there was “no excuse” to delay payments.

“Our country by adopting the new measures through the Greek parliament has fulfilled its obligations totally and on time,” he told the Athens News Agency. “There is no excuse for further delay on the issue.”

Pierre Moscovici, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, told a French radio station that he was confident an agreement could be found, although a senior European Union official was less optimistic, telling reporters in Brussels that the chances of a deal being struck were more like 50-50.

Policymakers were still in disagreement this weekend over assumptions about Greece’s long-term growth trajectory, and the ability of the country to maintain a sizeable primary surplus over the medium term.

Countries such as Germany believe stronger growth in Greece will remove the need for debt relief, with the country’s expansion alone enough to reduce its debt burden to sustainable levels.

However, the International Monetary Fund has called for more conservative estimates of growth and primary surpluses, insisting that it will not join Greece’s €86bn (£74bn)  third bail-out package unless there was meaningful debt relief.

“There are still countries that see very little need for debt relief,” one Brussels source said.

Greece is running out of time to secure the latest tranche of rescue aid needed to pay back a series of creditors, including the European Central Bank in July.

If no progress is made at Monday’s meeting, some suggest that a deal will have to be struck at the highest level between Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF.

The Greek parliament adopted a new set of austerity measures last Thursday, including pension cuts and tax rises that prime minister Alexis Tsipras said deserved a response from the so-called Eurogroup of finance ministers that “corresponded to the sacrifices of the Greek people.”

Before the narrow vote in parliament, the Conservative opposition leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said Greece was being turned into an “austerity colony with no end”.

Mr Moscovici said  “Greece has assumed its responsibilities,” referring to Thursday’s measures. “I now wish that we, the partners of Greece, also take our responsibilities.”

Source: telegraph

© Nick Kalikajaros 2017