Creditors will release 6.8 billion euros to Greece in its latest emergency loan tranche. Meanwhile, in Athens, thousands rallied against harsh cuts required by the international lenders.
Monday’s deal spared Greece from default but will require the country to drive through harsh new economic policies. In approving the package worth $8.7 billion on Monday, the European Central Bank, EU and the International Monetary Fund said that Greece’s reform program, implemented in exchange for rescue loans, was largely on track. However they complained that it was moving too slowly, and warned that the country’s economic outlook remained uncertain.
“Greece is on its way in many matters, but it has experienced delays in some,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said after the meeting, citing lags in setting up a suitable tax administration and implementing reforms in public sector employment as examples. “It’s not easy for them,” he added.
Earlier Monday, there had been doubts about whether EU ministers would approve the release of the funds. Greece had hoped that eurozone finance ministers would approve the release of 8.1 billion euros – a goal the country fell short of. After nearly going bankrupt, Greece requires the rescue loans to stay afloat.
Belgian Finance Minister Koen Geens said that Greece would receive the adjusted loans in three groups: 4 billion euros by the end of July, another 1.8 billion euros from the International Monetary Fund in August and the last 1 billion euros in October. Of the first infusion, 2.5 billion euros would come from the eurozone rescue fund and 1.5 billion euros from various EU central banks.
In Athens, municipal workers, public school teachers and other government employees took to the streets to protest the impending cuts that could put thousands out of work. Hundreds more rallied outside government offices, calling officials “thieves” and “traitors.”
mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)