Brussels pushes Greece on transparent reforms

European finance ministers are piling pressure on Greece to open its books and follow through with pledges agreed to in its rescue package, as the country tries to avoid running out of cash as soon as this month.

Greece will resume talks with its creditors in Brussels today, alongside technical talks in Athens to comb through data. Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said Greece will make “all necessary” data available.

“It looks as if Greece wants to commit to as little as possible, so that it can get money as soon as possible,” Aristides Hatzis, an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens, said by phone on yesterday.

“Hopefully, this will resume with the Greek government realising that some of those reforms must be done as they’re necessary to kick-start the economy,” Hatzis said.

As Greek officials struggle to meet the eurozone’s demands, the government’s cash supplies are running low. One official from the currency bloc, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on Monday that Greece’s funding might last for one, two or three weeks, though it was difficult to be precise.

“No one really knows how much money is left, no one can tell if it will keep the country afloat until March, April or even summer,” Hatzis said.

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi took a personal hand in persuading Greece to allow new visits from technical experts, according to two officials familiar with Monday’s talks.

After the meeting, Varoufakis said he was confident negotiations would resume in good faith. He described Draghi as a very skilled central banker.

“I believe that we are doing our job properly and they will do their job. Our job is to start the process which is necessary for the European Central Bank to have confidence,” Varoufakis told reporters in Brussels.

Greece could gain access to some of its remaining bailout money if prime minister Alexis Tsipras delivers his nation’s pledges, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said after finance ministers met Monday in Brussels. Recent debate about who would meet where and when had been “a complete waste of time,” Dijsselbloem said.

“If there is time pressure for financing needs that should be helpful for getting the package back on track,” he added.

The eurozone finance ministers reprimanded Greece for dragging its heels during the two weeks since they reached an agreement to extend Greece’s bailout.

Tsipras, whose anti-austerity government was elected in January on a promise to renegotiate terms of Greece’s €240bn ($260bn) bailouts, now has to June to reach a broader agreement on further support.


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