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Euro Zone Puts Greek Plan Under Microscope

Greece’s bid for a new bailout got close inspection on Tuesday from euro zone officials poring over the details of Athens’ budget to decide whether it has met conditions to get the money.
Even if it passes muster, the second round of funds may only be paid out once Greece proves it has taken action.
Senior euro zone finance ministry and treasury officials – collectively known as the Eurogroup Working Group – have to decide if euro zone finance ministers can sign off on a financing program when they meet in Brussels on Wednesday.
If they do, and ministers give their approval, it will effectively mean that Greece will have received a total of 240 billion euros in emergency loans and other support from the European Union and International Monetary Fund over the past two years – equivalent to 110 percent of annual output.
The first package, worth 110 billion euros, was agreed in May 2010. A spokesman for the head of the Eurogroup said euro zone finance ministers would meet from 1700 GMT on Wednesday.
“I am confident that – as far as I know the details – Greece will get more help,” Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter told reporters on Tuesday.
The devil, as always, is in the details.
After an emergency meeting last Thursday, euro zone finance ministers said they would sign off on a new program if Greece could find a further 325 million euros of spending cuts, secure parliamentary approval for the overall package, and get the leaders of its major political parties to sign up.
Since then, parliament has voted in favour and talks are going on over finding extra budget cuts, with sources saying there may be room to move on the defense budget.
But not all party leaders have yet committed and some – in particular Antonis Samaras, leader of the conservative New Democracy party, which is ahead in polls – are reluctant to do so with elections expected in April.
One euro zone official with knowledge of the talks said he expected the Greek leaders’ approval to be forthcoming.
“The vote in parliament took place and the 325 million euro of savings has apparently been agreed too. As for the letter – we are told this will be no problem at all,” the official said.
(source: Reuters)

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