Greece made its first official request on Thursday for further debt relief as the Euro Working Group (EWG) met in Brussels to rubber-stamp the 2013 primary surplus and approve the release of another 6.3 billion euros in bailout funding.
A day after the European Commission confirmed that Greece’s surplus for 2013, as calculated using the troika’s methodology, stood at 1.5 billion euros, the country’s representative at the EWG made a request for more debt-lightening measures. Panos Tsakloglou, chairman of Greece’s Council of Economic Experts, reminded his counterparts of the Eurogroup’s November 2012 pledge to examine debt relief steps once Greece produced a primary surplus.
Sources told Kathimerini that the other members of the EWG agreed that these discussions should take place during the course of the next troika review of the Greek adjustment program. The Eurogroup’s advisory body also agreed that Greece’s next loan tranche should be disbursed. Subsequently, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) announced that it would be transferring 6.3 billion euros to Greece, taking the total it has lent the Greek government to 139.9 billion euros. Two further tranches of 1 billion euros each are due to be released in the weeks to come as long as Greece meets reform milestones agreed with its lenders.
“I am very encouraged by the progress Greece has made in its adjustment program, as evidenced by the primary budget surplus for 2013 and the return to bond markets,” said EFSF CEO Klaus Regling. “These accomplishments were possible thanks to the determination of the Greek authorities and the efforts of the Greek people. In order to achieve sustainable economic growth in Greece, the reforms need to be continued.”
The International Monetary Fund’s executive board is due to meet in mid-May to approve the release of two installments worth 3.6 billion euros. IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday that he also expects talks on debt relief to take place in the second half of this year.
“The time line that we’re now on for those discussions is orderly and I think will enable the international community to support Greece’s continuing recovery,” Rice said.