Greece Said in Line for 8.3 Billion-Euro Aid PaymentRebecca Christie, Nikos Chrysoloras and Sandrine Rastello
Greece is set to receive a commitment from euro-region authorities as soon as next week for a payment of 8.3 billion euros ($11.4 billion) in the next step in the country’s aid program, three officials familiar with the negotiations said.
Greece needs the tranche to avert default in May, when the government has to repay 12.5 billion euros of government debt, including short-term paper, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Mediterranean nation has faced repeated delays in accessing the 130 billion-euro bailout package approved in 2012 and has not received a payment since December.
Ministers will discuss the next rescue payment when they meet next week in Athens, a euro-area official told reporters in Brussels today. They aim to reach an agreement in the second half of April, he said. The official declined to specify the size of the payment and said it could be paid out over several months, with a big initial chunk followed by smaller disbursements.
Greek lawmakers now are considering legislation to enact a wide range of measures, from extending the shelf life of milk to allowing more stores to open on Sundays. The changes are required by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in order to resume the flow of emergency loans.
Deputies to finance ministers are due to hold a conference call March 30 ahead of next week’s meeting, said two of the officials, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. The ministers could hold a further conference call if needed, they said.
Greece, now in its second bailout program, has faced repeated questions about is ability to finance itself amid the strict requirements of its rescue package and skepticism from financial markets. An extension or addition to the current bailout isn’t yet on offer, the euro-area official said at today’s press briefing.
Alongside the next euro-zone payment, the IMF is considering an aid payment of 3.6 billion euros as its contribution to the next tranche, one of the other officials said. The IMF, which hasn’t made a payment to Greece since July and will require assurances that Greece has 12 months of financing on hand, said today that talks are under way without giving any exact figures.
“There’s going to be re-phasing of disbursements to Greece,” IMF spokesman William Murray told reporters in Washington. “I can’t be precise on the exact amount that will be disbursed when this review is completed in May but it will be different than the past review” and “I assume it will be higher.”
Greece will need to follow through on required actions to receive the money and payments also will need to go through national governments under the terms of the current rescue agreement, said the three officials. No final decision on the size of the payout has been made and the money may not be disbursed all at once, they said.
The so-called troika of creditors said March 20 they had reached a preliminary agreement to unblock money from the current bailout program. Greece will need to be prepared to bolster its banks if they need more capital than currently foreseen, they said in a statement.