Greece races to finalize reform measures ahead of deadline | News | DW | 22.02.2015
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Greece races to finalize reform measures ahead of deadline

Greece is rushing to finalize a raft of reform measures that would spare it from bankruptcy and secure a four-month extension of its bailout program. Athens says the proposals will bring the economy "out of sedation."

Greece's new leftist government continued working Sunday to ready the list of measures to be submitted to its eurozone partners ahead of the Monday deadline.

If the 19-member eurozone group approves the reform and austerity proposals, the European share of Greece's rescue package due to expire at the end of the month will instead continue until June.

Greek Minister of State Nikos Pappas told Greek broadcaster Mega on Sunday that Athens would present proposals to take the struggling economy "out of sedation."

"We are compiling a list of measures to make the Greek civil service more effective and to combat tax evasion," said Pappas, a close aide of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The list will also likely include measures such as deregulation, privatization and social security reforms, according to Athens University economist, Aristide Hatzis.

Greece's Syriza-led government, elected in January on a campaign platform of ending unpopular austerity measures and negotiating a better deal for the country in Brussels, had initially asked European finance ministers for a six-month loan to buy it time to submit long-term reform plans.

In 11th-hour negotiations on Friday, however, the EU struck a deal with Greece to grant the cash-strapped country a maximum of four-months, allowing time for a new package to be negotiated with its creditors.

"This is a four-month truce that gives us time and a breath of air," junior administrative reform minister Giorgos Katrougalos told Skai TV on Sunday. He added that Athens intended to meet its fiscal requirements "by making the rich pay."

Pappas said the talks over the next week would be "a daily battle...every centimeter of ground must be won with effort."

Varoufakis 'confident'

It's not yet clear to what extent the Greek government will be allowed to meet its election promises to roll back austerity. Under its agreement with the eurozone, Athens has promised not to carry out any unilateral actions that would hurt its fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability. If the government sticks to its commitments, it stands to receive up to 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in funds still left in the 240-billion-euro bailout scheme.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis expressed confidence on Saturday, following a late night cabinet meeting, that the list of proposals would be approved by lenders - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Varoufakis said eurozone finance ministers would discuss Athens' reform list via a teleconference on Monday.

If the list is accepted, eurozone countries will have the rest of the week to formally approve the bailout extension. If the measures are rejected, Friday's deal could be scrapped, and a new Eurogroup meeting will be held on Tuesday.

nm/sms (AFP, dpa, AP)

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