EU finance ministers release 8 bn euro for Greece

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Debt
Berlin, Oct 22: The euro-zone finance ministers have released the next tranche of 8 billion euro for Greece amid fresh warnings that the heavily indebted nation will need a lifeline for a longer period.

They also said the country will need a massive replenishment of 220 billion euro which has been pledged by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The finance ministers of the 17 nations using the single currency, euro, kicked off a series of crisis meetings in Brussels yesterday.

A summit of the EU heads of state and governments will be held on Sunday to find a durable solution to the debt crisis, which is threatening to spread to larger economies such as Spain and Italy, and become contagious to the banking sector.

The ministers said they were releasing the latest instalment from a package of 110 billion euro offered in May last year, after examining a report by the 'Troika' group of experts of the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB).

The 'Troika' evaluated the country's compliance with the conditions it had agreed to for receiving the assistance.

The ministers said in a statement that they welcome the "substantial fiscal consolidation efforts" undertaken by Greek government to help the country meet targets for 2012.

They also appreciated the Greek parliament's approval on Thursday of a new package of austerity measures and called upon the authorities to make further progress in implementing the structural reforms and the privatisation programme.

The ministers indicated that 8 billion euro could be made available to the Greek government early next month if the IMF also gives its approval.

The Greek government had warned that without fresh assistance from the EU and the IMF it faced the risk of an insolvency by mid-November.

The release of the next tranche was due early this month, but it was postponed after the Greek government missed its savings target, that was agreed with the creditors.

The ministers said that on the basis of a report from the 'Troika' inspectors, they decided that a second bailout package 109 billion euros, which was agreed by the EU heads of states and governments on July 21, will not be enough to take the country out of difficulties and must be replenished.

Additional funds must be mobilised by "combining official financing with contributions from the private sector", they said.

PTI

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