Monday, March 9, 2015

'Time ticking away' on Greece debt talks (Jeroen Dijsselbloem)

Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem has warned Greece "to stop wasting time" in completing its bailout negotiations with international creditors and to start implementing reforms. Dijsselbloem told reporters ahead of a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday: "Very little has been done since the previous Eurogroup meeting in terms of talks and implementation.

"We have to stop wasting time - the time is ticking away."

The Greek government, which is entirely dependent on the European Central Bank for emergency loans, is expected to run out of funds if the bailout payment is not made this month.

- 'Spy' tourists plan

Eurogroup ministers are expected to discuss whether Greece’s list of economic reforms is good enough in order for the indebted country to receive the next installment of €7.2 billion ($7.8 billion) in bailout aid.

Seven key reforms have been proposed by Greece’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis including reforms aimed at improving the management of public finances and adopting immediate measures to address the humanitarian crisis.

One controversial proposal involves employing tourists as "spies" who would detect Greek business people's failure to pay value-added tax.

Varoufakis said on Sunday that his country could hold a referendum on its bailout plan if European creditors rejected Greek government’s proposals for economic reform.

- 'No referendum'

Varoufakis told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: "If needed, if we encounter implacability, we will resort to the Greek people either through elections or a referendum."

Varoufakis' comments raised worries of a "Grexit," in which Greece would leave the euro if debt talks were to fail.

However, Greece’s finance ministry has stated that Greek Eurozone membership is not in doubt.

Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble told reporters on Monday ahead of the Eurogroup meeting: "We will definitely not agree on a referendum for Greece today."

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