Greece enters 'final stage' of bailout deal

Athens and its international creditors expect to reach deal by the "end of May", according to government spokesman.

    Greece enters 'final stage' of bailout deal
    Greece's new radical Syriza-led government and its EU-IMF creditors have been stuck in a deadlock for four months [AP]

    Greece on Monday entered the final stretch of tortuous talks with its international creditors on a bankruptcy-saving loan deal, with the government calling for a breakthrough by the end of the month.

    "A deal is required immediately, this is why we are talking about the end of May, to resolve these critical liquidity issues," government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told reporters.

    Greece's new radical Syriza party-led government and its EU-IMF creditors have been stuck in a deadlock for four months over the reforms needed to release a final $8.2bn in bailout funds.

    European economic affairs chief Pierre Moscovici lamented that the Greek anti-austerity government seemed more interested in ditching promised reforms than in making proposals of its own.

    "They are more eager to say what they don't want to keep in the programme than to propose alternatives," Moscovici told a news conference in Berlin, while insisting that "some progress" had been made in some areas in recent days.

    Six-year recession

    Athens objects to further wage and pension cuts in an economy sapped by a six-year recession, but has offered to make a number of privatisations and step up tax collection.

    The delay has led to concerns Athens is running critically short of cash and may soon end up defaulting, which could set off a messy exit from the Euro.

    The country faces a hefty repayment schedule to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank in the coming months, and also needs to continue paying salaries and pensions.

    "I think we are very close to an agreement", Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Greek television late on Monday, pointing to "maybe in a week".

    "A break with creditors is not in our plans" nor "a change of currency," he said.

    At the same time, Varoufakis said "pensions and salaries were sacred... an absolute priority" and that he would "prefer a default with the IMF rather than on salaries".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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