Greece sends EU reform list, more hurdles before early cash

Fri Mar 6, 2015 9:59am EST
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By Renee Maltezou and Jan Strupczewski

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece sent its euro zone partners an augmented list of proposed reforms on Friday but EU officials said several more steps were required before any release of aid funds to a country that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says has a noose around its neck.

Struggling to scrape together cash and avoid possible default, Athens made a 310 million euro partial loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund, while Tsipras pleaded to be allowed to issue more short-term debt to plug a funding gap.

Greece is running out of options to fund itself despite striking a deal with the euro zone in February to extend its EU/IMF bailout by four months.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has refused to raise a limit on Athens' issuance of three-month treasury bills which Greek banks buy with emergency central bank funds. He said on Thursday the EU treaty prohibited indirect monetary financing of governments.

"The ECB has still got a rope around our neck," the leftist Greek premier complained in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel released on Friday. If the ECB continued to object, it would be assuming a grave responsibility, he said.

"Then it would be back to the thriller we saw before Feb. 20," Tsipras said, referring to the date when Greece agreed a four-month extension of its bailout with euro zone partners after market jitters ignited by political uncertainty.

In a letter to the 19-nation Eurogroup, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis outlined plans to fight tax evasion, activate a "fiscal council" to generate budget savings and update licensing of gaming and lotteries to boost state revenues, a Greek official said.

However, the expanded list of reforms arrived too late for deputy finance ministers and European Commission experts who met on Thursday to scrutinize it before a regular meeting of finance ministers of the currency area next Monday.   Continued...

A Greek (L) and a European flag flutter outside the Greek embassy in Brussels February 19, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman