German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble believes the time has come for Greece to focus on growth rather than spending cuts. He’s announced a fresh fund for Greek businesses suffering from a lack of credit.
Talks had begun between the Greek government and eurozone finance ministers on garnering fresh financial support for small and medium-sized businesses in Greece, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble announced Wednesday.
Speaking after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, known as the Eurogroup, in Athens, Schäuble lauded economic reforms initiated by Athens recently, saying the time had come to shift the focus on boosting growth in the recession-hit country.
Schäuble also said major eurozone countries such as Germany and France were in the process of creating a fund aimed at ensuring financing for small and medium-sized businesses in Greece. Private donors were also willing to contribute to the fund, he added.
“We are in talks with the Greek government on pooling a set of measures in a joint action plan,” he said, adding that Germany's state-owned development bank KfW would play a leading role in the effort.
Greece's economy is slowly climbing out of years of recession following massive cuts in government spending in the wake of a 240-billion-euro ($331-billion) bailout in 2010. Greek businesses, however, are still struggling under tight credit conditions as the country's ailing banks are unwilling to lend.
Schäuble didn't elaborate on the size of the fund and on which measures the money should be spent. But he said an accord would be finalized during an upcoming meeting in Athens between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, scheduled for April 11.
On Tuesday, Eurogroup ministers backed the payment of a delayed rescue loan installment worth 8.3 billion euros, citing progress by Athens on crucial reforms. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said remaining rescue loans to the tune of about 10 billion euros would tide his government over future funding shortages, rendering a third bailout package unnecessary.
uhe/hc (dpa, Reuters)