Strapped for cash and backing away from campaign vows, Greece’s new Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition could get some quick relief this month with an infusion of more bailout monies, but is being pressed to forge ahead with demanded reforms or face a cut-off.
The troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB), which Greece now calls The Institutions, could pay part of the 7.2 billion euros remaining in its bailout pot as early as this month if Athens starts adopting necessary reforms, the head of the Eurozone finance ministers’ group said.
“My message to the Greeks is: try to start the program even before the whole renegotiation is finished,” Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the Financial Times in an interview.
“There are elements that you can start doing today. If you do that, then somewhere in March, maybe there can be a first disbursement. But that would require progress and not just intentions,” he was quoted as saying.
Greece has accepted a four-month extension to rescue packages but Dijsselbloem wants the pace of reforms accelerated to head off more financial trouble for the country.
“If we spent two months talking to each other and not doing anything, at the end of April there are major problems,” Dijsselbloem was quoted as saying.
That would be contrary to the warning from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose country has put up a big chunk of the 240 billion euros ($272.5 billion) in two bailouts that not a single euro would be released until Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras finishes the reforms the new Greek leader vowed he would never implement.
Shut out of debt markets and faced with a steep fall in tax revenues, Athens is expected to run out of cash by the middle or end of March. Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said Greece will struggle to repay creditors starting with a 1.5 billion euro IMF loan repayment due in March.
He also said Greece wants a different deal on the 6.7 billion euros it owes the ECB this summer and can’t pay it outright.