Greece faces new wait for bailout funds

GREECE was last night pushed perilously close to its default deadline after Eurozone members demanded additional assurances that Athens would implement austerity measures agreed at the end of last month.

Eurozone members at yesterday’s meeting in Brussels decided to hold back half the €130bn bailout sum, €71.5bn, until 38 specific “prior actions” are implemented.

The soonest the second half of the bailout can now get final approval by European finance ministers is 12 March – just eight days ahead of its €14.5bn bond repayment.

The economic reforms are part of the 21 February deal under which other European nations will pay off Greek debt.

Pushing these economic reforms through the Greek parliament has been proved to be torturous although on Wednesday night  Athens approved the final significant element of the changes: an extension of pharmacy opening hours and cuts to spending on drugs.

Last night Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker insisted that he was confident that Athens would implement all the measures in the near future.

“All required legislation by the parliament and the ministerial cabinet has been adopted, and a few pending implementing acts should be completed shortly,” he said in a statement

The bailout aims to reduce Greek’s debt burden to 120 per cent of GDP from the current level of 160 per cent.

FAST FACTS | GREEK AUSTERITY

● Greece’s 38 austerity measures include building an accurate land registry for the first time.
● They also include such demands as buying a new computer system for the tax office and reducing the regulation of beauty salons.