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Greece Says Euro Area’s Aid Green Light Shows Economic Progress

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Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the euro-area blessing of this month’s aid disbursement for Greece is proof of the government’s “important” progress in overhauling the economy while signaling challenges ahead for further payouts.

“Greece satisfied the milestones that had been set for January,” Stournaras told reporters late yesterday in Brussels after a meeting of the finance chiefs of the 17-nation euro area. “The road is long and continues.”

The finance ministers gave the green light for the payout of 9.2 billion euros ($12.3 billion) to Greece this month. Of the funds, 7.2 billion euros in bonds are for the further recapitalization of Greek banks and 2 billion euros in cash are to cover the government’s budget needs.

The disbursement is part of a 49.1 billion-euro tranche that the euro area approved last month for Greece through March after revamping the nation’s second rescue. Policy makers gave the Samaras government two extra years until 2016 to meet budget-cutting targets. Europe split the whole tranche into sub-installments over four months to allow more oversight of Greece’s progress in curbing expenditure and overhauling the recession-hit economy.

Greece received 34.3 billion euros last month, including funds for banks. After the January disbursement, the country is due to get about 5.6 billion euros for budget obligations in two separate payments in February and March. The International Monetary Fund is contributing a separate amount to Greece of about 3 billion euros this quarter.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Stearns at jstearns2@bloomberg.net