Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Greece bailout: Deal to be sealed in weeks


ATHENS: Greece should wrap up bailout talks with internatio­nal lenders by August 20 once the parliament approves a second package of measures demanded by creditors on Wednesday, a spokeswoma­n from the government has said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced a revolt in the ruling Syriza party over the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts demanded by lenders but is expected to get the package through parliament with the support of pro-European opposition parties.

But he said last week he aimed to seal the bailout accord, which could offer Greece up to 86 billion euros in new loans to bolster its tottering finances and ward off the threat of being forced out of the euro.

“Immediatel­y after the vote of the prior actions, negotiatio­ns with the lenders will start, with August 20th being the final date,” government spokeswoma­n Olga Gerovasili said in a statement.

Officials from the creditor institutio­ns, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund are due in Athens on Friday for meetings with the government, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said.

Wednesday’s vote in parliament follows a first vote last week on the so-called “prior actions” demanded of Greece as a pre-condition before the start of full bailout talks.

The bill was passed but a revolt by 39 Syriza lawmakers who refused to back the measures raised questions over the stability of the government, which came to power in January on an explicit anti-austerity platform.

The heads of the centrist To Potami party and the Socialist Pasok party both said they would back the Tsipras government over the bailout accord but demanded a clear ‘road map’ from Tsipras about what would happen after.

The government has a majority of 162 seats in the 300-seat parliament but the revolt left it with only 123 votes and any further defections may be seen as underminin­g prospects for reform.

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