Greece makes IMF payment, gets bank funds, but doubts remain
By Jan Strupczewski and George Georgiopoulos
BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece made a crucial payment to the International Monetary Fund and won extra emergency lending for its banks on Thursday but it remained unclear whether Athens can satisfy skeptical creditors on economic reforms before it runs out of money.
Euro zone partners gave Greece six working days to improve a package of proposed reforms in time for finance ministers of the currency bloc to consider whether to release more funds to keep the country afloat when they meet on April 24.
After weeks of contradictory statements, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced that Athens was resuming the sale of state assets halted when a leftist-led government was elected in January, but would do so on different terms.
"We are restarting the privatization process as a program making rational use of existing public assets," Varoufakis told a conference in Paris. "What we are saying is the Greek state does not have the capacity to develop public assets."
He did not specify which tenders would go ahead and said the government wanted public-private joint ventures with a minimum investment commitment required from bidders, and the state retaining a stake to generate pension funds.
A government official confirmed Greece had transferred the 450 million euro ($485 million) loan repayment to the IMF, reassuring financial markets after earlier doubts about whether it had money to redeem the debt and pay wages and pensions.
EU officials said the Greek delegate made an urgent plea for cash at a meeting of deputy finance ministers in Brussels on Wednesday evening but was told there must first be progress on a stalled list of measures to make public finances sustainable.
"From the Greek side there was a strong statement that liquidity is getting really bad and there was an appeal to release some type of liquidity support before the euro zone finance ministers' meeting on April 24," a euro zone aide said. Continued...