Greece, lenders reach long-awaited deal on bailout reforms

Finance Minister Euclide Tsakalotos said "there was white smoke" and a deal has been reached. [European Council]

Greece and its foreign creditors reached a deal early today (2 May) on a package of bailout-mandated reforms, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said, paving the way for the disbursement of further rescue funds.

“There was white smoke,” Tsakalotos told reporters, referring to how the Vatican announces it has elected a new pope.

“The negotiations for a technical deal were concluded on all issues… the way has now been paved for debt relief talks.”

Talks on the deal, which includes labour and energy reforms as well as pension cuts and tax rises, had dragged on for half a year mainly due to a rift between the European Union and the International Monetary Fund over fiscal targets.

Greece now needs to legislate the new measures before eurozone finance ministers approve the disbursement of loans. It is money Athens sorely needs to repay €7.5 billion in debt maturing in July. The next scheduled Eurogroup meeting is on 22 May, where reducing Greece’s debt will also be discussed.

As part of the reforms, Athens has promised to cut pensions in 2019 and cut the tax-free threshold in 2020 to produce savings worth 2% of gross domestic product.

If it outperforms its targets it will be allowed to activate a set of measures offsetting the impact of the additional austerity, which includes mainly lowering taxes.

Following today’s agreement, the lenders are likely to decide among themselves on Greece’s medium-term primary surplus targets, a key element for granting further debt relief.

The IMF says Greece cannot maintain high primary surpluses unless it adopts more austerity and is granted further debt relief by the EU.

Greek 2016 primary surplus at surprisingly high level

Greece in 2016 registered a primary surplus of 3.9% of output, its statistics agency said today (21 April), in an important announcement for the country’s reform talks with its creditors.

In a draft document seen by Reuters, the Fund says Greece can reach a primary surplus of 2.2% in 2018 and aim at 3.5% annually in 2019-2021, if it implements the new measures agreed with its lenders. It suggests the primary surplus target be reduced to 1.5% of GDP thereafter.

Its eurozone lenders believe Greece has to sustain a 3.5% GDP primary surplus target over a longer period.

Greek SMEs vie for center stage in Juncker’s investment plan

The Greek government will try to use the Investment Plan for Europe in order to boost cash-strapped small and medium enterprises. EURACTIV Greece reports.

In Greece, so-called “red” loans have exceeded €100 billion, representing 10% of all non-performing loans at …

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